It’s Gizmo time again friends and neighbors and all who have perhaps had a wee bit too much Thanksgiving munching this week, or those who have some leftovers to deal with in the nicest way, or those who just are looking for a drink and like cranberry sauce and gin! All are welcome at the annual Gizmo party, which takes places the day after Thanksgiving here in the US at those spots that are in the know (which hopefully covers many many spots), and which has taken place ever since genius Jeremy Holt came up with this beloved drink, bless his boozy soul.
2-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and cranberry sauce, and syrup if using. Shake exceptionally well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up, Thanksgiving-style.
I love the song Mood Indigo, especially when Ella Fitzgerald sings the Duke Ellington tune with Duke playing. It’s moody, though, in melancholy sense, which for me makes it not a perfect brunch accompaniment (brunch being more of a sunshine-y affair). You know what it a good brunch accompaniment? This drink, Mood Lavender, named with a nod to the aforementioned song. And yes, that was the most random connecting of two ideas a drinks blog has ever had, but I couldn’t resist! I also couldn’t resist using the newish Unicorn vodka (a bottle of which recently showed up in the mail – don’t be mad at my luck, friend) to make a drink that had a color in the name.
Why, you might ask? Well, I’m here to tell you why! It’s because Unicorn vodka is infused with butterfly pea flowers, naturally. What does that do? First, it makes the vodka a deep cobalt-y color. Second, it means the vodka changes color when mixed into a drink with certain other ingredients. Like magic! Drink magic. It’s also infused with a touch of tangerine and rose hips (and based on corn if memory serves). None of the botanicals are so prevalent to take it into flavored vodka realm (a realm which can be dangerous), but do add an echo of the botanical to the taste and aroma. It’s a smooth sipper, too, a vodka you wouldn’t be sad to have solo, perhaps with a cube of ice or two.
But how (I can hear you from here), how does the magic work? The bottle itself says on the back that if you add a squeezed lime wedge or some soda it changes to purple, and two lime wedges or more soda changes it to pink, and that is true and a simple way to test your own sorcerous powers. Other ingredients can have the same effect, however, opening up the options. When working up my own Unicorn vodka cocktail idea, I found lemon a nice match (which also adds that acidic citrus umph to assist in the color changing) with the vodka, so started there. More pals to bring to our cocktail party did prove challenging, in a fun way. See, there’s a flavor component, as always, to think about, but here also a color one. I know color and the visuals are important no matter what, but felt here, even moreso. I wanted to keep the vodka’s color front and center, see.
Which led to some testing, but eventually I went with four more ingredients. First, I felt a true (meaning, not with extra sugar and stupid stuff added, just the pure distilled fruit) fruit brandy would be nice. And another Washington distillery, Oomrang, makes a delicious Donut Peach eau de vie, one that has that layered donut (or Saturn) peach flavor and a dry sweetness. It’s a beauty of a brandy, and a gold-medal winner, and went wonderfully. Two base spirits can give a lot of umph, so rounded out the edges with simple syrup. Good, so far, but needed another layer, and decided, rightly, to follow along the peach road, with a good dash of Fee Brothers fragrant Peach Bitters. A pretty yummy drink right there, but as I was serving it at brunch, decided to lighten it up a touch with club soda. I though long about going with brunch favorite Champagne, but felt the drink had enough punch and enough sweetness, so: soda!
And, if I can say so humbly, it’s a joy of a drink, light, layered, nice on the nose and tongue. And so so pretty! The lemon juice and perhaps the soda took Unicorn’s cobalt hue down a few notches on the dark scale (perhaps the brandy and bitters and simple pitched in as well), but as all but the lemon were clear in color, it kept a radiance that I quite liked. You might, too!
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, brandy, lemon juice, bitters, and simple. Shake.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a thin stemmed flute-ish glass, or another glass if you so desire.
3. Top with the soda. Stir briefly, gently. Add an ice cube if you think your soda isn’t chilled enough. Or if you want to. It’s all about the cool, and that means keeping your cool, too. Garnish with a duo of butterfly pea flowers.
Note: I had butterfly pea flowers around (they also came in the mail), and they made such a pretty little garnish I couldn’t resist using them for such. If you don’t have them, don’t fret. You could also go with a lemon twist. It would add a touch more lemon, but that wouldn’t be bad, I don’t think.
When the weather is cold and getting colder (as it is for us here in the northwest), it’s best to look towards those creatures who might be more used to the chillier temperatures than us puny humans. Take the Walrus, for instance. Large-tusked, able to navigate icy waters as if they were a warm bath, singing Walrus songs the whole time, and willing to shake up this warming cocktail between dips. You may not have known that not only does the Walrus provide the title here, but in addition created the delicious rye, sweet vermouth (Punt e’ Mes is my choice), Cointreau, simple, orange bitters (I used Scrappy’s, naturally), combo. I may, between us, be making that up. Not the delicious part, but the walrus creation part. But how cool if I’m not! Either way, this’ll keep you warm while you ponder the idea.
It’s nearly Halloween, the hauntingest holiday of the year, so gather round my ghoulish tell-tale heart tipplers, and let ol’ uncle Spiked Punch spin you spooktacular story about brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters, a soulclencher (in the most delightfully demonic way) of a witch’s brew we call the Warlock. See below video for details, but one warning: watching may make you thrill-seekers thirsty as a vampire at midsummer. Second warning: consuming Warlock cocktails can turn you into a zombie magician. Now you know!
As October is fall in all ways here in the northwest of the US, it may seem strange, even foolhardy, to have a drink named after shining shores. Wouldn’t “grey and gloominess along the shore” have been more apt (I can hear you asking all the way from here)? Well, potentially, yes, but see, this is a drink I already know, and often during fall and winter I like to muse about spring and summer, not that I don’t appreciate the glories of each specific season, but if well-made drinks can’t transport us, then, well, they can, so no need to wonder about if they couldn’t. And, this particular drink, while having a sunshine-y name and a base of dark rum, sits comfortably in multiple temperate times, as that rum does have a kick, and the amaretto and sweet vermouth add some lingering layers of flavor, herbal, nutty, along with a little sweetness (to get you through the colder nights). All of which is why I’m drinking it today, and why you should, too.
Shine Along the Shore
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce amaretto
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum, amaretto, and vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in.
The “and Tonic” family of drinks is a wide one, and getting wide as people happily realize the breadth of tasty choices. Though still utilized mainly in summer and the sunnier months (especially the grandmother and matriarch G and T), don’t get stuck into thinking that a tonic number isn’t going to treat you rightly during other times of year, too (though cold winter nights can be a tougher sell, you can go for a vocational vibe in those situations). In the current fall time, which bridges summer months and fall months, I find an Apricot Eau De Vie (or fruit brandy) and Tonic especially nice. If you have the right Apricot brandy naturally! I’m using Oomrang’s version, which is a delight thanks to being based on apricots handpicked at the peak of ripeness, with the absolute perfect ones de-pitted, for a robust flavor of apricots tree-ripened in the summer sun. One note: this delicious apricot fruit brandy is not to be confused with some “Apricot brandies” out there, which are actually liqueurs, and tend to be treacly ones. I used Q tonic for that side of the “and,” but others could work, and tonic syrup would be a treat. I was just out!
We’re in that time straddling summer and fall (though I fully realize fall doesn’t start specifically until the 22nd), which means days that can shade summery but then delve into a crisp fallness pointing to the colder days to come. To make the straddling smooth, it’s preferable that you have a drink that does the same, and if it’s a regal one, too, well, all the better! The Lord Charles fits that bill, with its full-bodied red-wine works-in-winter keep-you-warm Malbec base, mingling with simple syrup, citrus-y lemon juice, smooth dry sherry, and bubbly club soda, that which, with some ice, brings this drink into a level of refreshingness that summer (if you personify) would certainly appreciate. You’ll dig it, and it will dig you (if you think drinks dig people, which maybe they do, why not), and help you do that straddling we talked of. Enjoy!
Here’s a nice number that straddles somehow the summer, while still having a base that seems more fall-ish (rye, specifically Woodinville Whiskey Co. delicious rye. If you can get their rye finished with toasted applewood staves, do that. Do it now). Probably cause of the ice and soda and sorta tiki-ish St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram and the citrus from some fresh oj, and some local robust and fruity cherry brandy (the real stuff, not the sugary stuff that calls itself cherry brandy — I used Oomrang cherry brandy, which is yummy), but whateves. It’s a dandy treat, even here in August. I originally created it during the lockdown year of 2020, which you might remember, and which you might like to forget. The drink’s heft – while still staying light-ish on its feet mind you – might help with that! Even though that time was tough, there were I’m sure good things to come out of it, so maybe let’s not forget it completely. Like this drink, for example! Well worth remembering and having again.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More