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.
July 23, 2021
Once, I, and some athletic and newsworthy and hilarious and thirsty and running pals made a very silly Class of the Race video, which you should watch cause you like fun, and you like drinks (or why would you be here). But you can watch it without a pen in hand to write down the recipe for the drink had in the video, The Class of the Race that is, because I have the recipe directly below. It’s a swell sipper, too, one worthy of any race winners, and, though bourbon-based (well, bourbon and bubbly-based), one that I believe can be had in summer, due to said bubbly, chilled. A little simple syrup, to sweeten things up, a little Benedictine, to add those monastically-herbal notes, and a little Peychaud’s bitters to underline it all, round the drink out and make a worthy finishing line for your July Friday.
The Class of the Race, from Dark Spirits
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Benedictine liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Benedictine, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake well (but not so well that you expire from the effort).
2. Strain the mix into a Champagne flute. Top with the bubbly.
A Note: Pheidippides was the original marathoner, running from Marathon to Athens after a battle in 490 B.C. without stopping once, announcing, “We have won,” and then reportedly dying. I feel this is something you should know when having this, but don’t let it flatten your bubbles.
July 16, 2021
Ah, the Negroni. You kids probably won’t believe this, but I remember way back when when I had to describe to even good, reliable, knowledgeable, wonderful bartenders how to make a Negroni, what was in it, soup to nuts, as they say. And now there are probably 348,651 variations, many of which are happy to use the name, or some bastardization of such, attached to a drink that might not have much if anything to do with the original. But hey, people, you be you. I may bemoan the lack of naming creativity, but certainly won’t turn down a good drink no matter the name. But, as a classic song told us, ‘there ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.” So, today, we’re taking it classically, in the one configuration that really deserves the name: Gin, Italian (or rosso, or sweet) vermouth, Campari, over ice, with a … lemon peel? Well, I somehow was out of orange, which I’d normally go with. So, I myself have now undercut the above sentences, in a way. Let’s pretend this never happened, and instead talk about The London Nº1 gin, which I’m using here. Pale-blue tinged with juniper, savory, bergamot, licorice, lemon and orange peel, cinnamon, iris root (which I believe delivers that blue-ness in coloring), and more used in the making, and based on a spirit made from English wheat. Together, they deliver an earthiness the smooths into citrus and floral notes in an enticing manner. Our next component: Mancino Rosso vermouth. They themselves say that this vermouth is of “exceptional quality and refined organoleptic characteristics,” and as “organoleptic” is my new favorite word, I couldn’t agree more. 38 aromatic herbs combining into a lush mixture that delivers spice, sweet, forest-at-dusk-with-flirty-druids-dancing notes (helped along by vanilla, rhubarb, juniper, toasted wood, myrrh, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, and the like). And then, Campari. What can you say about something that, if it wasn’t in the world, the world would feel lacking at a spiritual level? Nothing does the love that is Campari justice. Just know that without it, birds would stop singing and bunnies stop hopping. I am very excited for this Negroni. You will be, too. Heck, you’ll even want to give me a hand when you have it.
1-1/4 ounces The London Nº1 gin
1-1/4 ounces Mancino Rosso vermouth
1-1/4 ounces Campari
Lemon twist (or orange, if you have one)
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our trio. Stir well.
2. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass. Garnish with the twist.
July 9, 2021
Oh, the life of a 1500’s explorer and colonialist, traipsing around under the sunshine, and probably never having this drink. I mean, without a time machine, I’ll admit, if I knew where and why this particular drink was attached to this particular explorer, I can’t remember it. There is a nice French and the Caribbean tying-in, as the drink features the boldness and beauty of both Cognac and rum, so at least there is some here-to-there-ing happening (though Ponce was from Spain, but let’s bring the Euro together today). However! The drink also contains Cointreau, which naturally came about a little later. And then there’s grapefruit juice and sparkling wine, which might imply a little globe-trotting. It’s a little elegant, which could be like the curve of a conquistador’s helmet, if you want to go along that particular flight of fancy. But overall, I think it’s that if you drink a couple of these, you may decide to go exploring, or at least meander in your mind hither and yon, or at least sit on the couch and watch a program that takes you on a exploration. However! If you want to just enjoy this layered, effervescent, citrus-y, number on a sunshine-y day without worrying about how our explorer name ties in, I certainly wouldn’t hassle you about it.
The Ponce de León, from Dark Spirits
1 ounce Cognac
1/2 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, rum, Cointreau, and grapefruit juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into saucer-style Champagne glass or cocktail or coupe glass. Fill the glass not quite to the top with the Champagne.
July 2, 2021
Those, like you, who have been reading this blog for the last 10 years know that I have a white currant bush that I’m a tad bit obsessed with, and which I usually use the fruit from to make a white currant liqueur called Current Currant, which is darn delicious, and then also last year made a white currant and mint liqueur called A Most Particular Friend. See, the currant bush is now large enough that it has fruit usually for two batches or so of liqueur, unless making a very big batch (it can be devilish tricky to pick the currants, as they tend to fall off easily, and bounce around, and are fairly small for one with thick old fingers, but it’s worth it, I feel, to get that white currant taste, which is a bright citrus-y June-y taste all its own). Recently, I actually picked the first round of currants, as not all the little balls of joy ripen at the same moment; hence the first round being ready, well, first. Anywho, I wasn’t sure what to do with them, as I didn’t think there were enough for Current Currant, and so I decided to try something new – strawberries and currants (I had some strawberries around)! Check them out:
The sweetness and summer-ness of strawberries felt a good match for the tangy burst (with the barest hint here and there of bitterness) currants deliver. And, this time, I was right! The final liqueur-ing has the kissy nature of a good strawberry (I doubled down on the strawberry-ing by making a strawberry simple as our sweetener), but then the above the cloud citrus notes of the currants lingering. Dare I say, it’s summer in a glass? I dare, I dare!
Strawcurranterry, Strawberry and White Currant Liqueur
1/2 cup white currants
2 cups chopped strawberries
3 cups vodka
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 cups water
1. Add the currants and first back of strawberries (2 cups) to a large glass container with a good lid. Muddle nicely. Add the vodka, stir, and put that lid on it. Store in a cool dark place away from the sun. Let sit two weeks, swirling occasionally.
2. Add the sugar and second batch (2 cups) of strawberries to a medium-sized saucepan. Muddle briefly, mellowly. Add the water to the pan. Raise the temperature to medium high and heat to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat a touch, and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes, stirring here and there. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
3. Open the jar from Step 1 back up, add the simple syrup, strawberries and all, to the jar, and stir well. Place it back in the cool dark place, and let sit two more weeks, swirling occasionally.
4. Strain – I went once through a decent fine strainer to get the fruit out, and then through cheesecloth to add more clarity. You might need a third straining, too.
June 18, 2021
Well, honestly, this one sells itself: summer starts in two days. This tangy-but-umphy-but-herbally-but-a-smidge-sweet-but-fruity-but-bitter-in-a-good-way-but-delicious drink is called Summer Dream. This recipe serves 2, because summer isn’t a season to spend alone. And this base spirit, bourbon, is a fine base for a drink, even in summer no matter what anyone says. Finally, fruit. So, I don’t know that I need to say anymore, cause I’d just get in the way of you making this drink, and also get in the way of my making one.
Summer Dream, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2 (because of reasons mentioned above)
3 orange slices
2 peach slices
4 ounces bourbon
2 ounces Campari
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Add the orange and peach slices to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Campari, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake really well, if a little wistfully, for at least 15 seconds.
3. Strain the dream through a fine strainer equally into two cocktail glasses.
June 4, 2021
Sun-loving swillers, it’s no secret but if you’ve forgotten, summer is sneaking up swiftly. So, you need to have some swell summertime sippers readily at hand. If you don’t (and even if you do, cause really more than one is necessary), then let me make a suggestion, one which will make your summer flavorful, fun, and frolicking: stock up on the Sprezza. Made over here (“here,” at the moment I’m typing, means USA), but very influenced and ingredient’d by Italy, Sprezza are canned drinks that combine vermouth, Scrappy’s bitters, mineral water, and carbonation in a lovely-designed can, memorable and stylish like the Sprezzas themselves. There are two versions, Rosso (utilizing Mancino Vermouth Rosso and Scrappy’s Orange bitters into a rich, mountain meadow sunshine-y combo), and what I’m having today, Sprezza Bianco. Bianco combines bright Mancino Vermouth Bianco and Scrappy’s Orange bitters into an ultra-refreshing beauty, with floral notes, mint, and hints of bitter and citrus. It’s dry, but not drying, if that makes sense, light on its feet, ideal for a day spent in the summer sun with friends and laughter. I like it over ice, with a twist of lemon (or orange, perhaps), but having it well-chilled straight out of the can isn’t a bad idea, if in a hurry. I’m not sure where all you can pick up Sprezza cans, but I hope it’s in your area – summer just won’t be the same without some cold Sprezza.
1 can Sprezza Bianco
1. Couldn’t be easier: fill a wine glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Pour the Sprezza over the ice and in the glass. Twist the twist, and drop it in. Summer awaits!
May 28, 2021
You know those Fridays when you aren’t sure what to make, cocktail-wise, and you go to the shelves, and pick up the biggest library of cocktails you can get, or, to be specific (both language-wise and title-wise), Il Grande Libro dei Cocktails? Those ones? No? Yes? Well, either answer, this happened to me recently – luckily, I’d picked up said grand library, oh, now a few years back in a swell used bookstore in Sansepolcro (I sure hope that bookstore is still there and open through it all), so on this Friday I could open it, swing over to the “Cocktails del Amore” chapter (cause I’m a romantic, and cause I really like this picture of these cuddly glasses kissing – aren’t they cute!
), and decide to make a drink I’ve never made, called Baciami Subito, which was so intriguing, and which really shouldn’t have, to me at first glance at least, made sense: I mean, dark, rich, intriguing Cognac with light, springy, dry vermouth, and then bitter Angostura with it, too? On the flip side, it does sound good, now that I type it out, and, you know what, it is! Those lighter notes from the vermouth really start to accent the Cognac once mixed. But is it right for the romance chapter, which here (and otherwheres) tends to lean to sweeter liquid fare? However! If you realize or remember that Baciami Subito means “kiss me right now,” well, then, it’s a twist (no twist here though, but a cherry), because this drink does have a tasty kick that not only could induce rapid kissing, but also can me you feel fun-oozy like a good quick kiss. So, there we are, smooches all around!
2-1/4 ounces Cognac
1-1/2 ounces dry vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters (the book suggests Angostura, which is dandy I’m sure, but I had the also-dandy Scrappy’s Aromatic neat. The book also suggests three dashes, but I found two enough)
Cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Cognac, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well, or “vigorosamente!”
2. Add a cherry (or two if feeling flirty) to a cocktail glass. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass and over the cherry. Sip, and kiss at will.