January 12, 2018
Earlier in this wonderful month (just a week ago! If you’ve forgotten), I featured a drink here on the Spiked Punch, In The Treetops with Delamain L’Aigle XO Cognac. If you missed it, go check it out, or be sad – you don’t want to be sad, right? There, I talked about Cognac-as-cocktail-ingredient, and then, when thinking it over, decided I should back up the talk with a few more cocktails boasting Cognac as a base, and decided also to go next with one of the definitive Cognac cocktails, the classic Sidecar. Created overseas during Prohibition, the Sidecar was either first crafted at a bar in Paris or by an army colonel who drove around with a sidecar often. Or someone else entirely!
There are two Sidecar schools, but I lean towards the one that leans heavier on the Cognac and is less sweet. This road works even better when you’re able to use Hine Bonneuil 2005 Grande Champagne Cognac (a bottle of which I received in the mail recently, bless my lucky stars). Made from Ugni Blanc grapes only grown on the Hine vineyards, this limited-edition (track it down, if you can) Cognac has a great fresh grape, fig, orange, and herb nose, with more fig, and then apple, spice, honey and oak on the tongue, with an echo of pineapple and citrus. Scrummy stuff.
And, a perfect Cognac for the Sidecar, able to stand up to the lemon and mingle mightily with the requisite orange liqueur – here, I used a new one, made in my own Seattle, by Bernie Garcia, the owner of Moctezuma’s restaurant (it actually launches next week, but I figure you can wait a few days). It’s called Grandeza, and it uses bitter orange peels, agave nectar, and a bit of vanilla in a memorable manner. All together, this trio combines into a cocktail that you won’t forget, one that begins with bright citrus and spice, buoyed by fruit, herbal, and more. Oh, I know that many (maybe even myself in the past), have said that using a really fine Cognac like Hine Bonneuil 2005, in cocktails, even classics like the Sidecar, is foolish. However! I think once in a while, high-rolling your cocktails at home to lift them into legendary status is a good idea. You only live once, after all.
2 ounces Hine Bonneuil 2005 Grande Champagne Cognac
1/2 ounce Grandeza orange liqueur
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full of cracked ice. Add everything. Shake gently.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Don’t ride a motorcycle while drinking, but do sit in a sidecar attached to a parked motorcycle, if you want.
January 5, 2018
It’s a smidge odd to say about one of the world’s revered sippers, but Cognac (especially in the states, I suppose) gets a little short shrift. Especially when it comes to cocktails. But consider this, friends – Cognac was a key player in the early days of cocktailing, and used as the base spirit in many classic drinks (the Sazerac, for one, but also a bunch of others), including ones that shifted for one reason or another to a different base. Both the shifts and the lack of Cognac-ing in modern cocktails is a shame, because the layers of flavors that unfold in good Cognacs when paired with the right pals make memorable drinks.
Let’s take this one, In The Treetops, for example! I was lucky enough (don’t curse me for it, especially not this early in the year) to receive a bottle of L’Aigle de Delamain XO Grande Champagne Cognac recently. The Eagle (L’Aigle equals The Eagle) is a delicious Cognac, aged in Limousin oak casks near the Charente River, and one that can be – and maybe should be! – savored solo, thanks to its bold-yet-graceful and complex-yet-approachable nature. It delivers floral and citrus essences on the nose, with a few nutty notes, too, and even more lush orange and fruit with a little chocolate and nuttiness in the unfolding flavor. It’s really as good as you’d expect from Delamain, who, if you don’t know, have been making renowned Cognacs since, oh, the 1600s. Or thereabouts!
When deciding to mix a cocktail with a Cognac this swell, I think keeping it fairly simple, letting the Cognac shine, adding only a few others players, is the way to go. I first thought I’d go with a drink from another lesser-known classic, Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion (from the early 1940s), a drink called Rock a Bye Baby. And, admittedly, which you might guess from the title of this cocktail (if you know your nursery rhymes), I didn’t stray far from the original. I kept the same ingredients, Cognac (well, Crosby used brandy), sweet vermouth (I used Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, 150th anniversary edition, made from Barbera and oak-aged Moscato, and with lovely fruit tones and a smidge of sweetness), and Bénédictine. But Crosby (who will forgive me I’m sure), had equal parts Cognac and sweet vermouth, and less Bénédictine. I wanted to let Delamain’s L’Aigle fly higher, so boosted the Cognac, drifted down the sweet vermouth, and upper the Bénédictine some to herbal-ize the edges more. The end result is a layered, sophisticated-in-the-best-way, cocktail, one that is a special treat, sure, but don’t you deserve to be treated? I think you do.
In The Treetops
2 ounces L’Aigle de Delamain XO Grande Champagne Cognac
1 ounce Martini & Rossi Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy life’s momentary luxuries.
July 28, 2017
Not too many weeks in the past, I had a drink here on the Spiked Punch called Afternoon Leaves, featuring Four Leaf Spirits’ Liath Earl Grey tea-infused gin and mentioned they also make rums as the Puget Sound Rum Company (and that they donate a portion of proceeds to cancer research and education-focused non-profits). Because I didn’t want to make the rums jealous, I wanted to have a drink with one of them as well – and decided I’d go with a classical influence. Or, at least, a summer favorite from days of yore. Yore here meaning 1947, and the influencer being a drink from tiki hero Trader Vic called The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
As you might expect, this is traditionally made with some tropical rum, but I think Puget Sound Rum Company’s Amber Rum 47 (47 because it was made at the 47th parallel), distilled in a Jamaican-style pot still from Colombian organic unrefined cane sugar and aged for a year in ex-bourbon barrels, works wonderfully, thanks to its caramel and vanilla notes. See, those blend (well, they’re neighbors, so it makes sense) smashingly with the drink’s other ingredients. Starting with Lucky Falernum, which comes from broVo Spirits (a distillery that’s also in Woodinville, just like the Puget Sound Rum Company), and which is a high-proof falernum bursting with spice and fruit goodness, and then from there going into Cointreau and lime juice – though I go a little lighter on the lime than Trader Vic. Changing tastes and all that. I think he’d understand, once he had the first sip of this summer lovely!
The Royal Woodinville Yacht Club
2 ounces Puget Sound Rum Company Amber Rum 47
1/2 ounce broVo Lucky Falernum
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything.
2. Give the Club a good shake, but not so much that it makes you sweat. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Raise cheers in a Woodinville direction.
July 21, 2017
Not able to take a vacation this summer? Trapped at a desk while the noises from frolicking day-off-ers echo in your ears? Wishing for an escape, but the many mundane priorities stand like an annoying boss in the way? Well, here’s a thought – have the below bubbler and take a mini trip without leaving the house.
The Temporary Getaway, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
3 apple slices
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
4 ounces chilled brut Sekt or other sparkling wine
1. Place two of the apple slices, the orange juice, and the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the St-Germain and, using a long spoon, stir well.
3. Pour the chilled Sekt into the cocktail shaker. Using that same reliable spoon, stir briefly, being sure to bring up the fruit on the bottom when stirring.
4. Strain into a flute glass or cocktail glass (in this instance I like the way the latter breathes, but a flute’s more traditional). Garnish with the remaining apple slice, putting a little notch in it if needed for rim balancing.
July 14, 2017
There are times, when the Mercury’s rising and that big ol’ ball of heat in the sky is high overhead, when you want a classy drink, but one that isn’t too tough. A drink that has all kinds of flavor, but without involving any sweat (or little sweat) to make. A drink you could sip after a long day of work while the sun starts its long slow trip down westward, as well as during a family brunch on Sunday when you’re waking up slowly.
Well, this is that drink friend! It covers all those bases, though admittedly it might be best during the Italian aperitif hours, those beautiful moments before dinner (let’s say 5 to 7, though they can arrive a stitch earlier or later) when you want to have something a little effervescent and light, but still with character and taste. All those characteristics come together here with just two ingredients – and a lemon twist – starting with Mionetto Prosecco, specifically the DOC Treviso brut version (though all the Mionetto Proseccos, made since 1887, are worth tracking down). The Treviso brut is nice and dry and crisp, with apple and peach and flowers lingering on the tongue, along with a hint of honey.
Here, it’s mixed with another Italian number, the newest sibling of renowned Galliano (the L’Autentico golden liqueur in the memorable bottle), Galliano L’Aperitivo, just recently becoming available stateside. An amaro, or bitter, it boasts over 50 ingredients, including a bouquet of citrus – orange, bergamot, tangerine, grapefruit, others – and a mix of herbs and spices like cardamom. The flavor’s rich, with all those orange-y citrus notes, herbaliciousness, and a hint of bitter.
Together, these two Italian stalwarts come together beautifully – with lots of fruit flavor, but with a dryness that is swell in summer, when you want to keep the cloying nature of some drinks far away. The color is also rather amazing, adding another welcome touch.
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 extra hot out, add an ice cube.
3. Garnish with the twist. Give a toast to the sun, and to Italy.
July 7, 2017
Summertime, summertime, sum sum rummertime. You see what I did there? I put “rum” in for “sum” at the end, because summertime is, actually, rum time (though admittedly, I think nearly every spirit could be used in a joyous hotter-weather drink if done right. However, historically, rum fits the bill perfectly, and so my song makes sense and the right level of silliness is reached). And this concoction uses a rum that was new to me, but one I’m super glad showed up in the mail.
That rum? Bayou Silver rum, from Louisiana, which is made from raw, unrefined cane sugar and molasses from Patoutville, LA – that’s all local action, which is great. It’s also made with triple filtered fresh water, and distilled in a traditional pot still outside of Lake Charles, and has a lovely gator on the bottle. Again — great. The flavor has a slight sweetness and tropical fruit notes, while maintaining an underlying strength that stands up in cocktails. It’s also won oodles of awards, if that does it for you. Also, great!
Here, I’m matching it up with another summer favorite – fresh raspberries. While they aren’t tropical per se, that raspberry zing and tang goes with the Bayou like summer goes with short shorts. To round it out, a little smidge of fresh line pizzazz, and – because fruit is a kick – a bit of Morey Narancello orange liqueur, which is made in Spain and delivers more orange flavor and citrus, and another cuddle of sweetness. The end result is a summer drink worth singing about.
The Alligator’s Orchard, Serves 2
8 good-sized fresh raspberries
4 ounces Bayou Silver rum
1/4 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 ounce Morey Narancello orange liqueur
1. Add the raspberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, lime juice, and Narancello. Shake really well.
3. Strain through a fine strainer into two cocktail glasses – because when it’s sunny outside, you may be in the midst of a summer romance, which means two drinks are needed
June 30, 2017
I was recently in the U.K. (London, Dover, Warehorne) with wife Nat and some of my bestest pals, Jon and Nicole. It was a groovy trip (you should visit all three places, right now!), and we had oodles of English fun. At the beginning, in old Londinius, we had a little apartment, and while we visited some swell bars (especially Oriole, which is wonderfully dreamy), we also hung out in the apartment drinking G&Ts. To do it right, the G we used was from the East London Liquor Company, picked up at their stall at the bountiful Borough Market.
The first distillery in London’s east end in over a century, the East London makes vodka, rum, whisky, and of course gin, including their flagship Dry Gin, which is what we had! Made from 100% British wheat and using both vapor and direct infusion of spices, citrus, and juniper, it boasts a clear juniper and lemon/grapefruit taste underlined by cardamom, coriander, and more. Yummy stuff. We also picked up a bottle of 3/4Ounce Tonic Maison tonic syrup – from Montreal! We were very international. The Maison has a steady bit of cinchona bitterness and spices and mingled nicely with the gin. It all made from some wonderful moments, sitting around with good friends sipping while discussing the wonders of London.
Gin and Tonic
1/2 ounce 3/4Ounce Tonic Maison tonic syrup
1-1/2 ounces East London Liquor Co. Dry Gin
3 ounces soda water
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Add the Tonic Maison and East London Liquor Company gin to a brandy snifter (or highball, or whatever glass they have at your rented space, as the case may be). Stir briefly.
2. Add a decent amount of ice to the glass. Top with the club soda. Stir well, but carefully.
3. Garnish with the wedge. Dream of London (or, if you’re there, of Montreal).
December 23, 2016
I was recently able to re-taste a tasty trio (they call it the Ultimate Range) of Ardbeg Scotch Whisky
, 10, Corryvreckan, Uigeadail, thanks to a friendly postal person (how nice they sometimes are!) delivering them to my door. I could go deeply into a review of each one, but honestly there are many spots you can look at for reams (do people still use the word “reams” in this way in the digital age? I hope so) of words on these Scotches. Cause they’re delicious, and you should try all three. If not right now, then soon. However, even when I’m sipping such swell sippers, I always get the urge in the back of my throat or mind to try them in a cocktail – even when most would only have such swell sippers solo or with one dash of natural spring water, or maybe a small perfect ice cube. Call me crazy. You won’t be the first one.
Here, I went with Corryvreckan
. Its lush aroma (blackcurrant, cherry, vanilla, pine, and brine) and even lusher taste (more blackcurrants and other forest-y fruits, dark cherry, pepper, almonds, smoke, a hint of honey, an intriguing echo of the sea), just called to me. It could
be the legendary and dangerous whirlpool it’s named after, too. Cause I am a sucker for a legendary whirlpool. With such a layered and memorable nature (and admittedly a price tag that’s not crazy, but not low end, either), I always want to be extra careful in what I mix it with, and want to let it really shine, just adding small amounts of ingredients that will accent and meld nicely.
I decided first on Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, 150th anniversary edition, which itself comes from a blend of Barbera and oak-aged Moscato, and which boasts rich fruit tones and a little sweetness. The only other ingredient is one I’ve wanted to slip into a cocktail for as long as I’ve had a bottle: Breckenridge Bitters. Made as you might expect in Breckenridge, CO, it isn’t a “bitters” in the traditional sense of the word, more an aperitif that uses local alpine herbs in a magical manner – it’s also a tiny bit sweet, but balances it beautifully with a bitter, herbal loveliness. It’s available in many spots now, and I strongly suggest it.
That’s a powerful trio! And this cocktail is a powerful one – so full of flavor it’s hard to be believed. It’s a force of nature. Like whirlpools and mountains.
All Mountains Are One
2-1/2 ounces Ardbeg Corryvreckan
1/2 ounce Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
1/4 ounce Breckenridge Bitters
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, or something comparable and neat. Garnish with the twist.
A Note: Is this close in nature to other Scotch cocktails, including perhaps the most famous of them all? Sure! But every good drink deserves its own good name, even if only one ingredient changes. Really, even if an amount of an ingredient changes. Be creative yo!