February 19, 2021
You know (cause I’ve mentioned it before and you’ve memorized every word I ever typed, which is a bit, oh, nice but also maybe makes me wonder if you need to get out more, which is, I realize, a bit difficult to do right now, but I’m wandering) I sometimes like to go to my liquor/cocktail book shelves, grab a book at random, and then make a drink from said book. But you may not know that on rare occasions I do the same, but instead of the shelves go to a little container I have of drink-related, let’s call them pamphlets, or little soft-back-y things, mini-books perhaps. A lot of these used to float around, and some still do, but in their late 50s, 60s, maybe even early 70s heydays, lots of liquor brands, and even some stores, used to make these, doll them up, and use them as recipe-filled promo pieces. Neat, right? I have a stack, not a large stack, but a stack, and just reached into it and pulled out a pretty one called Come for Cocktails. Published by The Taylor Wine Company in 1958, it leans as heavily towards food recipes as drinks, and is squarely in the “more entertaining is better” camp, one I agree with (when pandemics make such a thing safe). It has some recipes you’d expect, some you might not, and some really sweet illustrations, including this jolly jumping shrimp one:
And this dancing sherry and glasses one:
The latter one is important to us here and now, as the drink I picked to make from our Come for Cocktails mini-book is called The 6 O’clock Cocktail, and features sherry, along with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. There has to be (I’m wracking my brain, but my brain is old and full of cocktails) a drink with a different name that has equal parts of these three lovelies, right? There are the classic Adonis and Bamboo cocktails with sherry and one each of our vermouth pair naturally. But both with a different name? I can’t recall, but really, it doesn’t matter that much, or enough to stop me drinking this perfectly-balanced beaut, which lets all those herb-y, nut-y, botanical-y scents and tastes play around the palate like a dance party. A lot depends on what variety of such you use. Sadly, in a way, I did not use Taylor branded sherry and vermouth – which I think has been lost to the liquor shelves of time. I did use Punt e’ Mes Italian vermouth (I felt its drier, herb-forward umph would be good), Dolin dry vermouth (cause I like it), and Williams & Humbert Dry Sack medium sherry, which is a dandy nutty mixing sherry. Altogether: yummy. Try it, and next time you pass a rack of booze-pamphlets in your house or a used bookstore or antique mart, maybe pick one up and make a drink from it. It worked for me!
The 6 O’clock cocktail
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce sherry
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our trio of liquids. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the lemon twist.
February 12, 2021
Here’s something that may have confused you for years (heck, it confused me – maybe still does): citrus fruits, those sunny suntime suntreats, are often associated with gloomy old greytime cloudypants winter months. Weird, right? I suppose (this is how I’m telling it to myself at least, and, I guess, you) that it’s because said citrus fruit delivers said sunshine within these wintery grey months, a juicy daydream of the beach when the rain or snow or ice is descending from unfriendly skies. Why this fruity ramble? Well, as an intro way of saying that recently I felt the need to make a little Mandarino, the mandarin orange liqueur, to bring said sun beams into my glass and my dreary days, and, well, let me assure you that it did just that! I was hulu-ing and be-shorted in no time. I first made this, my version of Mandarino, way back for Luscious Liqueurs, and you can sip it solo, on ice, or as the orange component in a Margarita or other cocktail, any time of the year. Though maybe it’s best in winter.
6 Mandarin oranges
2 cups vodka
2 cups simple syrup
1. Wash, dry, and peel the oranges and 1/2 of the lemon, working to not end up with any of the white pith (if the Mandarin peels just slip off, as they often do, then scrap any excess pith off the inner sides with a paring knife). Put the peels in a glass container that gets cozy with its lid (meaning, the lid fits well). Use the fruit for juicing or cooking or just eating.
2. Add the vodka, stir a little, and seal. Place the container in a cool, dry spot away from the sun. Let it relax for two weeks, swirling every 3 or 4 days.
3. Add the simple syrup, stir well, and reseal. Leave the Mandarino to get pretty for two more weeks, stopping by to swirl every 3 or 4 days.
4. Strain the liqueur through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other easy pouring vessel. Strain again through 2 new sheets of cheesecloth into bottles or jars, or one larger bottle or jar.
February 5, 2021
Yes, I agree with you! This warming winner does deserve a much more imaginative and inventive and intriguing and just better name. But I suppose that on occasion being straightforward isn’t a bad thing – it is cold outside, so something hot is needed. And this drink does have spices and Scotch. So that name isn’t wrong by any means, but, c’mon, the spice layers here, allspices, cloves, nutmeg, and the toddy-ness, and the butter, and a little smooch of sweet, and Scotch (did I mention that?), altogether raising this drink into the high heights of hot drinkness, the tempting tops of cold-curing drink mountain, the level of a drink that needs a name to match. It should have been called Hercules! However, it was first called Hot Spiced Scotch I think in Applegreen’s Bar Book, or at least that’s where I saw it (my edition is copyright 1909, published by the Hotel Monthly Press, though an earlier edition came out in 1899), and since it’s been called that for now over 100 years, let’s keep it that way, shall we? We shall.
Hot Spiced Scotch
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 to 4 whole cloves
2 ounces Scotch
3-1/2 ounces water
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
Lemon twist for garnish
1. Heat a sturdy goblet by running it under warm water, then drying it quickly.
2. Add the simple syrup, allspice, and cloves to a cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
3. Add the Scotch to the shaker. Swirl the contents together, and then strain into the warm goblet.
4. Heat the water in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Pour the hot water into the goblet. Add the butter and stir a couple of times (not once for every year between now and 1909, though).
5. Top the drink with the nutmeg and the lemon twist.
January 29, 2021
Decided to end the month with one more non-alcoholic delight, in honor of those taking part in the now-annual booze-skipping known as dry January. This drink’ll be like the dessert at the end of the month’s n/a meal, as it’s a rich charmingly chocolate treat, one that has enough tang to balance all that lush loveliness out. In a way, it’s based on the canonical creamy cocktail classic (a favorite of mine!) called the Alexander, which also features a trio in equal parts, one of which there and here is cream. In the Alexander, the other two are gin and cream de cacao, whereas here we have orange juice and chocolate syrup. It’s a drink that demands some good solid shaking to get the combination mix level you want, and to keep that sweetness smooth and make the mix mighty fine.
The End Most Sweet
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ounce heavy cream
1 ounce chocolate syrup
Peppermint stick, for garnish (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add our three sweet and friendly ingredients. Shake very well, quickly.
2. Strain (though a fine strainer if you’re worried about pulp) into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the peppermint stick, if you want. I go a little back-and-forth, as sometimes that hit of peppermint is perfect, and some days I’m just not feeling it. You see how you feel, and go forth sweetly.
January 22, 2021
I realize that the “holidays” in some ways are behind us, at least what people think of when one says “holidays,” in Western culture, that is, meaning the winter holidays, though really there are holidays year round, round the world (thankfully)! Which means drinking a drink called “Holiday Tea Time” anytime at all is perfectly dandy, and especially, me thinks, in January, because this particular drink doesn’t have any booze in it, and though I don’t partake in the now-ritual called “dry January,” I know lots of fine folks who do, and they deserve to have good drinks during that timeframe, and here we are then, with this peppermint-y, rosemary-y, bubbly delight. The peppermint travels this holiday road through the addition of peppermint tea, chilled here, and the rosemary through rosemary simple syrup, which I’m fairly fond of, I have to admit!
Holiday Tea Time
2 ounces peppermint tea, chilled
3/4 rosemary simple syrup (see Note, below)
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces club soda
Rosemary sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tea, syrup, and juice. 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 over the ice. Top with the club soda.
3. Stir to combine. Garnish with the rosemary sprig.
A Note: To make the rosemary simple syrup, add three-quarters cup fresh rosemary to a saucepan. Muddle a little bit with a muddler or wooden spoon. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup water to the saucepan and raise the heat to medium-high. Stirring regularly, let the mixture come to a low boil, and keep it there until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for ten minutes, remove the heat, and let cool completely. Strain out the rosemary, and pour into a container with a good lid. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
January 8, 2021
Welcome to 2021! Well, I’m a little late with the welcome, but it’s already been (to put it mildly) a strange week, and following up 2020’s strange year (and then some), well, tardiness is probably okay. As is drinking Fish House Punch. Luckily (for me!), some pals (Curtis and Eve!) made a big batch of Fish House Punch, and then bottled it for lucky folks (like me!), since they couldn’t, for obvious current reasons, have a big party as one usually would when making a big batch of this favorite that goes all the way, way, way back to Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Fishing Company sometime in the 1700s. There’s something about drinking a mix that traces back that far that’s wonderful, connecting us to drinkers from many years before, and then you can up the wonderful quotient ten times when it’s made by friends, and you get to share the drink with them (as well as those 1700s drinkers) in a communal, if distanced by both time and space, way. I’m not 100% sure if this is exactly the recipe they used, but it’s the one I use, from Dark Spirits. If you aren’t super thirsty, and want to do a bottling, I’d still mix with a little ice, or just add a little water, as water is one of the ingredients here (as with all chilled drinks). Let’s hope the rest of the year is as swell as this historical sipper.
Fish House Punch, Serve 10
Block of ice (or cracked ice)
1 750-milliliter bottle dark rum
15 ounces cognac
7-1/2 ounces peach brandy
7-1/2 ounces freshly-squeezed lemon juice
7-1/2 ounces Simple Syrup
1. Add the ice to a punch bowl (fill about three quarters full if using cracked ice.) Add the rum, cognac, brandy, juice, and syrup. Stir 10 times, while humming fishy songs or hymns to Pennsylvania.
2. Stir 10 more times. Serve in punch cups or wine glasses or bottle it to give to friends (in a distanced way).
December 18, 2020
Just weeks back, I had a Cocktail Talk from Qiu Xiaolong’s excellent Enigma of China, starring Chief Inspector Chen (be sure to read past Qiu Xiaolong Chen Cocktail Talks), in which we had a quote about classic Chinese poet Wang Xizi and a wine poem games he and other poets played, which is about the most amazing thing! Said poet from many years gone by (and the poets who played the wine poem game described) mostly hung out in the Chinese city (as it’s called today), Shaoxing. Now (and trust me, I’m bringing this all together, somewhat), also a few weeks back, some pals of mine from the wondrous Teacher’s Lounge dropped me off a bottle of what, it turns out, is Shaoxing wine! Also amazing. A fermented rice wine, it’s one of (I’ve read) the most famous of the genre, and one often used for cooking as well as drinking – actually, it’s a key cooking ingredient, due to its herbal-ish, funky-ish, fruit-y taste. But I believe that taste means that it can make a swell cocktail, too, and I think in this drink here, The Orchid Canopy (the name’s a shout out to Wang, too!), proves it. I felt something as personality-rich as Shaoxing wine needed a drinking partner that could stand up to it while mingling, and after some testing, came up with: port! Specifically, Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny port, which is a lush number that’s also fruity, with hint of nutty, too. Those notes, with more emphasis on the “fruity” but stone fruity (equaling a little nuttiness, too), are echoed in our third and last ingredient: Rothman and Winter Apricot liqueur. With these three ingredients, we have a cocktail that’s fit for a gathering of poets. Heck, they might even play a cocktail poem game with it!
The Orchard Canopy
1-1/2 ounces Shaoxing rice wine
1-1/2 ounces Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny port
3/4 ounces Rothman and Winter Apricot liqueur
Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add our three poetic ingredients, and stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a good-sized orange twist. Drink, write poems, drink more.
December 11, 2020
Bit chilly out dontcha know? Wind coming in quick and cool from the north, nipping at your nose, toes, and panty-hose? Perhaps a flake or two of snow wisping on the currents of air here and there (but not yet everywhere)? Fluffy orange mittens mittening on your hands? You know, winter (for those in the hemisphere where it is winter) is here, so, not so surprising if you’re thinking of thicker socks and watching the mercury mingle lower, and wondering – how might I warm up? If I can be a bold as an impertinent icicle, can I suggest the Rumoddy? Which (shhhh, don’t tell) is, to speak the cold truth, a rum toddy with maybe a wrinkle or two (like a warm shirt that has been in the closet a long time). And Rumoddy is such a warming sounding name, yummy. And this is yummy! With dark rum, lime, and rosemary simple syrup I had nearby, and which you could make if you want (and why wouldn’t you, rosemary being such a swell winter herb), but if not, you could go with regular simple (rosemary simple recipe below btw), and then hot water to take that chilly mentioned way back in sentence one far, far away – for a few moments, at least.
2 ounces dark rum
1/2 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
3/4 ounces rosemary simple syrup (recipe in Note)
5 ounces hot water
Lime twist, for garnish
1. Add the rum, lime, and syrup to a cocktail shaker (no ice!). Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a pre-warmed (just by running it up warm water) sturdy mug.
3. Top with the hot water. Stir to combine. Garnish with a lime twist.
A Note: To make rosemary simple syrup, add three-quarters cup fresh rosemary to a saucepan. Muddle a little bit with a muddler or wooden spoon. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup water to the saucepan and raise the heat to medium-high. Stirring regularly, let the mixture come to a low boil, and keep it there until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for ten minutes, remove the heat, and let cool completely. Strain out the rosemary, and pour into a container with a good lid. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.