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!
December 9, 2016
Admittedly, I’m usually (as anyone who knows me knows, or, even if you don’t actually know me in an in-person way, if you read this blog you probably know) a staunch soapboxer about drinks-that-borrow-names-from-other-drinks. Meaning, I think a drink name should be as creative as a drink, and that even a small ingredient change needs a new name. So, inis, ritas, olitans, all those, make me sad, as does the recent proliferation of Negroni names. Jaysus, bartenders, be creative!
However, this Dry Negroni is pretty darn swell, and so I can step off my soapbox while I’m sipping. For some reason I’d never even thought to try the subbing of dry for sweet vermouth, cause I am silly. And, I picked up the recipe and idea from rollicking Rob Chirico’s new book, Not My Mother’s Kitchen: Rediscovering Italian-American Cooking Through Stories and Recipes! Rob has a host of good books you should pick up, and his latest is both funny and tasty. It up-ends the hoary tradition of so many cookbooks, where the cook/writer has learned the craft at the side of some family elder, because it turns out Rob’s mother was a terrible cook, and he had to learn in spite of it. It’ll have you laughing and have you making delish dishes all at once, thanks to the combination of funny stories and helpful recipes, the whole of which is written in a wonderful convivial style. There’s even a short chapter on Italian libations, and that’s where I picked up this recipe.
Dry Negroni, from Not My Mother’s Kitchen
1 ounce gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce Campari
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, dry vermouth, and Campari. Stir well.
2. Fill a cold old-fashioned glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with the orange slice.
December 2, 2016
Sometimes, a holiday week can feel like you’ve been on a trip. Sometimes a fun trip! Sometimes a filling trip. Sometimes a tiring trip. Sometimes . . . well, you get the idea, right? Right! Even with a wondrous trip, you still may feel a little weary after it, and that’s where this drink comes in (it was created after my return from my longest trip, seven months living in Italy, hence the Italian-American-ness of it). I’ve used a number of bourbons when making this but most recently used the new-ish Backbeat bourbon, from Seattle’s swell 3 Howls distillery. It’s got a mix of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% barley and is finished in French Oak. Smooth, with a little honey-ness, spice, and oak, it mingles swell-ly with maraschino and old pal Fernet-Branca here. Try it and see! You’ll feel less weary, I’ll bet.
Welcome Back, Weary Traveler
2-1/2 ounces 3 Howls Backbeat bourbon
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino
1/4 ounce Fernet-Branca
Wide Orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice.
2. Add the bourbon, maraschino, and Fernet-Branca. Stir well.
3. Strain into a cocktail glass. Utilize the twist in the proper manner.
November 11, 2016
So, you know about 11:11, right? Magic number? All that? Here’s what the reliable (depending on your source) Wikipedia says to kick things off:
Numerologists believe that events linked to the time 11:11 appear more often than can be explained by chance or coincidence. This belief is related to the concept of synchronicity. Some authors claim that seeing 11:11 on a clock is an auspicious sign. Others claim that 11:11 signals a spirit presence. The belief that the time 11:11 has mystical powers has been adopted by believers in New Age philosophies.
I may believe all of that. Well, who knows. I may be kidding, too. I remember that – or think I do – my old pal Jon was the first to tell me about 11:11 being something you wish on when you see it randomly on the clock. Though it could have been an ancient spirit posing as Jon? Maybe. But I’ve spent many years making wishes in this situation, and now, today, it’s actually 11-11 on the calendar, so I’m going to drink a Three Wishes cocktail at exactly 11:11 today (both in the morning and at night, to be safe), and make some wishes. Wish me luck! Oh, you can do the same – I’m happy to share wishes.
Three Wishes, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
1 ounce amaretto
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum, Creole Shrubb, and amaretto. Stir – no wishing yet.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink. Let the wishing begin.