As spring continues shaking off winter, and the world continues its slow movements, various plants are springing up and blooming and peeking through the cold and snow (if you still have snow) and such. One of which – which really, toughs it out pretty well throughout the earth’s whirls – for me is rosemary. I have, as do lots up here, lots of rosemary. And while it’s fragrant and a nice herb to have around, sometimes, you have to think outside the box to decide what to do with it all. So: rosemary simple syrup! Or making a giant rosemary robot. I tend to go for the former, but if you go for the latter, okay! So, rosemary simple, which goes perfectly with rum and herbal-sipper Becherovka from the Czech Republic. So, if you have a little rosemary happening, now you know what to do with it.
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Becherovka
1/2 ounce rosemary simple syrup (see A Note below)
Rosemary sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Becherovka, and rosemary simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the rosemary sprig.
A Note: To make rosemary simple syrup add 1 cup fresh rosemary leaves, 2½ cups water, and 3 cups sugar to a medium-size saucepan. Stirring occasionally, slowly bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low to medium heat. Then lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup completely cool in the pan. Strain through cheesecloth or a very fine strainer, and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
This is one of those drinks that appear to be related to a number of other sippers. It has a connection to the Sidecar, with lemon and Cointreau, and especially what some call a Chelsea Sidecar, which uses gin as the base spirit. It’s also connected to a drink called the Leap Year (a fine drink I should talk more about here sometime), which has gin, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and sweet vermouth. Not to mention bunches of other gin, lemon, vermouth variations (and Cointreau, too). But, with all that, I think this particular configuration is its own animal, and so while the name (perhaps obliquely) points to some of its antecedents, the end result is a worthy sipper just for its own tangy, spring-y, botanical-y, subtle-y orange-y, taste. When you sip it, springtime or not, you’ll understand what I mean, and forget about all that other stuff I mentioned. Just sip, sip, sip.
The Leaping Drive
2 ounces gin (I used Bombay Sapphire, and it served me well)
3/4 ounces Blanc vermouth (I used Dolin, and it was delicious as always)
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/4 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the twist. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass (or comparable). Garnish with the twist.
Generally, as a rule that most who have interacted with me know, probably cause I tend to mention it all the time, and sometimes stand on the corner on a soapbox talking about it, generally, I like all drinks to have their own individual names, even if the drinks has just been changing the number of drops of bitters in a drink. Creativity is a good thing! So, you might be surprised to find what looks, at first, to be a drink here where I have a variation of a well-known drink without a new name. BUT! At one time there was a whole list of Juleps consumed, not just the mighty Mint Julep, and “Julep” was nearly a category of drinks, with the Gin Julep being an especial favorite. And, when “Gin Julep” was ordered by drinkers who drank long before us, it was often genever, the progenitor of gin, in the drink. If you’re not a genever fan, well, do you have some tasting to do. First as a medicine and then as a drink, it’s been consumed happily since the 1500s, stories say. Made from malt wine, it tends to have a malted whiskey combo’d with an herbal and juniper-y gin-ness. All of which makes it intriguing in a Julep, delicious, even. And – because of all of the above – fine to just call this a Genever Julep.
Fresh mint leaves (4 or 5)
3/4 ounce Wilks & Wilson gomme syrup (you can go less if you want, and you can go with plain simple syrup, but Wilks & Wilson is a fine maker of cocktail ingredients from Indiana)
3 ounces genever (I like Bols Genever)
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
1. Take one mint leaf and rub it over the inside of a metal julep cup (if you have one) or a highball glass. Be sure the mint touches each inch of the glasses inside. Drop the leaf in the glass when done.
2. Add the remaining mint leaves and the syrup to the glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle the leaves and syrup. You want to be strong, but respectful.
3. Fill the glass half way with crushed ice. Add the genever. Stir well.
4. Fill the glass the rest of the way with crushed ice. Stir once. Garnish with a mint sprig.
A Note: To be traditional, you must crush the ice in a cloth bag. But if this is too much work, just start with crushed ice.
Beyond the fact that this is a tasty drink – double bitters, bourbon, bubbly, Cointreau – I love the story of the Seelbach. It was once thought an uncovered treasure found in some ancient texts, and brought out of the mists of time for the drinkers of the future. But, turns out, the whole story was made up. Cocktails should have histories like this, sometimes, cause drinking should be fun (also, to read the whole story in more detailed, check it out on Liquor.com) and sometimes made up stories are fun, too. Heck, it tricked me, but I still believe it’s fun, and like drinking the Seelbach, too. Try it, and I’m guessing you will, as well.
January isn’t called “the cold and flu” season as much as year’s end, but darnit, it’s still a month where you need your vitamins and need to have an eye (at least one) on your health. And what’s healthier than raspberries? Well nothing. Nothing but raspberries and vinegar, that is! Now that’s a healthy duo, especially when you combine it with soda water and Cognac (or brandy, in a pinch, another healthy item). Heck, that combo is so healthy that it was a top tipple of Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac, ex-French citizen and beloved Mayor of New Orleans from 1820 to 1828. If you can’t trust him (from whatever afterworld bar he may be at) on healthiness, then who can you trust? (Oh, you’ll need to make the raspberry-vinegar syrup to get full health benefits and to make this drink – see A Note, below – but you can do that. I have faith in you!)
2 ounces Cognac
1/2 ounce raspberry-vinegar syrup (which may once have been called Red Hembarig and various other names)
Chilled club soda
1. Fill a highball glass up with ice cubes. Add the cognac and the syrup. Stir once.
2. Top the glass off with club soda. Stir once again.
A Note: To make your syrup in a fairly-orderly and quick fashion, muddle two cups raspberries a bit in a bowl, then add a cup of apple cider vinegar, and stir briefly. Let sit overnight (I suggest putting a napkin or such on top). Then add it plus three cups sugar and 3/4 cup water to a saucepan. Heat to a simmer, let simmer for around 10 minutes, then take off the heat and let it cool completely in the pan. Strain through a fine strainer and then cheesecloth if you’re really worried about getting small bits of things in your teeth. Keep in the fridge.
Ah, the new part of the year, here we are. And here we go with 2019! At this time, it’s good to use some new ingredients to match the New Year, but (I’m not getting deep here, really, but just trying to roll things into the recipe in some sort of fun way. Fun!) also to use some ingredients from the past year. Which leads us to this here drink, and a duo of lovely products from the Woodinville Whiskey Co., from out here in the W-A. Specially, their limited-time Autumn release from last autumn, which was their rye finished with toasted Applewood staves – learn more about it in the Hero of the Fall recipe (which you’ll like, I’ll bet). That, though, is the last year component, while the new is just “new” to me: Woodinville’s maple syrup. I am ashamed to admit that I opened my first bottle only recently, because it’s delicious. They start with grade-A dark maple syrup from the eastern US, which is aged in empty Woodinville bourbon and rye barrels, adding caramel, vanilla, and woodsiness to the syrup. Yummy! Maple syrup isn’t used in drinks enough, and, admittedly, it can take over – but dang, this is good stuff! And matches that Woodinville rye wonderfully, especially with a last addition: Peychaud’s whiskey barrel-aged bitters. More whiskey-barreling! Those deep herbal bitter notes are a third treat here, in our Manhattan-y mixture. It’s a great drink for toasting both the past and the upcoming year (or anything else you need to toast).
Oh, one note: you might want to pull back to the maple syrup to 1/2 ounce. I was feeling it, and went for 3/4s. You get the rye first, with a hint of the syrup, then that syrup comes on, with the bitters and barrely stuff finishing it off. However, it could be a stitch sweet for you, so go as you go.
I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, baby, it’s cold outside. There, I did it, I sung the song that once was neat, and now has sadly been covered into oblivion. A shame, really. What’s not a shame on a cold-outside-day is this winter Washington warmer. It’s a curious choco-mix in one manner, in that it mixes hot chocolate and whiskey, which isn’t seen often. Silly, that. Here, the whiskey side is Scratch’s straight whiskey. Scratch (you should know this!) is a delicious distillery out in WA, specifically Edmonds, WA. They make all kinds of bottled things, starting with gins, and moving along. Their whiskey can be hard to get, but is worth tracking down, due to its singular (and single-barrel), mash bill, which utilizes a line-up of “old world” grains I hadn’t seen together before: spelt, millet, white winter wheat, and malted barley. Scrumptious stuff. Also scrumptious, the other WA-made ingredient used here, Salish Sea distillery’s organic allspice liqueur. Salish Sea is from Lacey, WA, and makes an incredible array of all-organic liqueurs, a line-up covering classic flavors and more esoteric numbers. And if that wasn’t enough scrumptiousness, a little Seattle-made Scrappy’s orange bitters adds the final touch here, in a mighty-fine way: you put a few drops on top of the whipped cream topping, and the bitter scents waft up as you drink. So, what are you waiting for? Warm up.
If you’ve forgotten (though how could you, marketing being the horror that it is), tomorrow is Halloween! I’m guessing you have your costume set, but what about your drink? If not, then remember the Warlock! It has brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. It will, when consumed, turn you into a zombie magician as the below video shows. But hey, it’s Halloween, that’s what you want!
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