September 18, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Dark and Stormy

dark-and-stormyYou know (I know you know) that I’m not what one might refer to as “summerific.” While I do love warm-weather drinking, and sitting on the porch on a mild summer’s eve, and don’t have constant AC or some such, also, I mean, I’ve been known to get sweaty easily, complain about temperatures over 80 (but living in Seattle, I swear one’s temperature gauge changes), burn like a baby, and truth be told no-one wants me in a swimsuit. With that said, however, I’m missing summer already, even though according to calendars fall doesn’t yet start for a few days. But that summer, school’s out, sun’s out, relax-why-dontcha, feeling feels to have faded like old paint, with the colder days ahead looming largely. Which is why, today, I’m having a Dark and Stormy. Cause it’s a classic refresher, bubbly, beautiful, tangy, booze-y, spice-y, summer-y – and yet, the name points to the clouds, the nighttime-in-daytime hours, the rain, the wind. It straddles the seasons, in a way, a way which makes it the ideal drink for today. Have one, see if I’m right!

 

The Dark and Stormy

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces dark rum

Chilled ginger beer (I’m using Rachel’s Ginger Beer cause it’s awesome and support you locals for gosh sakes)

Lime wedge, for garnish

 

1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the rum.

2. Fill the glass with ginger beer, smoothly and regularly.

3. Squeeze the lime wedge over the drink, and then drop it like the hand of an hourglass. Stir, but gently, as all things, us, time, are fragile.

September 11, 2020

What I’m Drinking: A Most Particular Friend (or, A White Currant Mint Liqueur)

Back now, oh, four years ago or thereabouts, I had a recipe and write up here on the Spiked Punch blog for a white currant liqueur called Current Currant, which I’ve been making ever since, thanks to the white currant bush/tree/plant that is growing in the side yard. It’s a plant that took some time to bear fruit, but now is pretty reliable as long as I guard it from the deadly and rapacious white currant grub that can take out a whole plant in no time if not guarded relentlessly during the three-to-a-week of days the grub attack occurs. That guarding makes the currants even more precious; well, that plus the fact that picking the currants is also a little laborious. They’re small, but have a singular taste, a little citrus-y in a way, but also hinting of green grapes, along with a bitter echo – and the fruit makes the Current Currant liqueur a singular liquid. But not what we’re drinking today! As the currant bush has gotten bigger, the yield is enough to make that liqueur as well as other experiments – including A Most Particular Friend.

A Most Particular Friend is made starting in the manner of Current Currant, with white currants, sugar, water, and vodka (any neutral spirit can work, as you might expect). The particular addition – if you want to describe it such – is a bunch of fresh orange mint. I happened to have some growing not too far from the white currant tree, and since the two were nearly neighbors as it may be, combining them seemed apt. And it worked an absolute treat. The mint (only the faintest faint echo of the orange remained, but that’s what dreams are made on) combines with the citrus-esque currant flavor in a way that makes me want to do that hand motion where you kiss your fingers and then open them – bellissimo! Lots of flavor, while remaining light as summer twilight. Fantastic chilled or over ice, so much so I haven’t even tried it in a drink. But I might! If you can track down these two flavorful ingredients, I suggest you give this a try (but don’t steal them outta my yard)!

a-most-particular-friend

A Most Particular Friend

 

1 cup fresh white currants

1-1/2 cup fresh orange mint

2 cups vodka

1-1/2 cups simple syrup

 

1. Add the currants and mint to a large glass container with a good lid. Muddle nicely. Add the vodka, stir, and put that lid on it. Store in a cool dark place away from the sun. Let sit two weeks, swirling occasionally.

2. Open it back up, add the simple syrup, and stir well. Place it back in the cool dark place, and let sit two more weeks, swirling occasionally.

3. Strain – I went once through a decent fine strainer to get the fruit out, and then through cheesecloth to add more clarity. You might need a third straining, too.

 

 

September 4, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Fruit on the Table

I suppose I’ve said this many times, even recently, but also farther back, throughout the ol’ Spiked Punch blog-of-drinks history, but blackberries, to me, are the queen of summertime berries, the champion of August fruits, the glorious harbinger of winter’s doom (because I always know summer is ending when I’m plowing through blackberries), and just generally really good, especially when they’re plump and sweet but holding a tiny tanginess, too. Yummski, blackberries. I like them solo, in drinks, with peanut butter, when they have been taken by Sidetrack Distillery and made into their (also, yummski) Blackberry liqueur, and when they are painted into a still life so I can admire their artistry. So, yeah, I like them, and I like them in this here drink, which is not a far relative from some other drinks, say, the Margarita, but which has its own particular name, because why wouldn’t a good drink deserve an individual name? That’d be just silly, and while I am silly, I am not silly in that way, I’ll have you know.

You know? Back to this drink! It leans heavy into our beautiful blackberries, but that isn’t all naturally. The base, for example, is another summertime (anytime) fav, mezcal, which starts us earthy and smoky. Then, Grandeza orange liqueur, made in WA, and boasting a bright orange, vanilla flavor. You could use another orange liqueur, but this one is a treat if you can get some (I realize that during the present pandemic, it might be harder than normal to travel, so I’m not gonna try to sway you toward a WA trip. Today, at least). A little fresh lime in attendance and you’ll see the Marg mention above come to life. The final piece of this tasty puzzle has also been mentioned above: Sidetrack Distillery’s lush, lovely Blackberry liqueur. Get some! Make this drink! Believe in the power of blackberries!fruit-on-the-table

 

The Fruit on the Table

 

6 fresh blackberries

Ice cubes

2 ounce mezcal

3/4 ounces Grandeza

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur

Cracked ice

 

1, Add four of the blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.

 

2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but our second variety of ice. Shake well.

 

3. Fill a goblet (or comparable) glass with cracked ice. Strain the mix from Step 2 into the glass through a fine strainer. Garnish with the remaining blackberries.

August 28, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Effervescent Snake at the Dentist

Effervescent-Snake-at-the-DentistI gotta admit straight up front that as I’m typing this my dog Ainsley is licking my ear. I also have to admit that this drink is a variation of a drink from Dark Spirits called The Serpent’s Tooth, and while we’re admitting things (or at least while I am), I’ll admit that I can’t quite recall where I first found said Serpent’s Tooth, and while I could go to the library-of-booze-books and look it up, that would then wake up said dog (who has gone from licking my ear to napping), and, well, she needs her rest. So, there we are!

However, I can tell you that this is a some odd assortment of ingredients in a way, and I ended up making it for a Friday Night Cocktail partially because it’s good, but also partially cause I was doing a bit o’ liquor shelves organizing (which can be daunting, between us), and found a couple bottles with just a sip or splash or small stream or two in them, including a bottle of Combier Kümmel. Kümmel, if you don’t happen to know, is the caraway, fennel, cumin (in the main) liqueur that kicked off in Holland way back in the 1500s, and went on to become an Eastern Europe, parts of Western Europe, UK golf club favorite. It hasn’t seen the meteoric rise in the US yet as other once-obscure liqueurs, but I have a fondness for it (along with most things boozy I suppose), a fondness not evidenced by the fact I forgot I had this particular bottle on the shelves nearly empty, but a fact evidenced by me instantly taking a sip and then making this drink with it.

A drink where our nearly-orphaned Kümmel is mixed with an array of items: Irish whiskey (this time, The Quiet Man), Italian vermouth (this time, Punt e’ Mes), and aromatic bitters (this time, The Bitter Housewife). All those ingredients are also in The Serpent’s Tooth, unlike the next one: club soda. As it’s summer, and heated, wanted to turn this into a cooling cooler type of cool, and soda and ice did it. Oh, went with a lemon twist, too, as opposed to the original tooth’s lemon juice. Lighter lemon, I suppose, and it worked a treat. Lots of flavor in this one, bubbling under the surface like an anaconda (with a toothache, if you want to take it there), while still having those, well, bubbles to refresh.

The Effervescent Snake at the Dentist

 

Cracked ice

2 ounces The Quiet Man Irish whiskey

1 ounce  Combier Kümmel

1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes vermouth

2 dashes The Bitter Housewife Aromatic bitters

Ice cubes

4 ounces chilled club soda

Lemon twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whiskey, Kümmel, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well.

 

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 into the glass and over the ice.

 

3. Top with the club soda. Stir briefly. Garnish with the twist.

 

PS: Yes! Those are porcupine quills in the image. I wanted to the use a snake, but couldn’t track one down. A failing, I know.

August 14, 2020

What I’m Drinking: Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun with Diplomático Mantuano Rum

Okay, to be clear, I’m not telling you that you should ignore the sun’s heat, and not take necessary precautions for safety when the big ol’ yellow ball is high and hot and the Mercury has risen to precarious degrees. Be safe, friends, in all ways! However, I do think Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun is a delicious name for a delicious summertime, heated weather drink, and if I can say so without sounding like a jerk, I think the below unveiled liquid number fits that bill like a perfect pair of summer shorts. So, now, preamble over.

 

This particular summer drink is made possible by the postal service – cause it was from their hands a lovely delivery of Diplomático Mantuano rum showed up at my house one day. This is a nice rum, in my opinion (as the kids say) at least. A blend of rums aged up to eight years, it’s fairly mellow, smooth, flavorful (with fruit notes – dried and fresh oranges, plums – vanilla, oak, and spice), a little sweet, carrying a bit of a kick, and pretty darn tasty all on its own, solo, singular, alone. I almost didn’t save enough to try in a cocktail, but those fruit flavors begged me to, and, as hot as it is today, I felt that maybe it’d be temperature-worthy to ice and tall it up some. But what to mix with it?

 

Well, I wanted to keep the summertime fruit flavors flowing, so my first choice of pals for the rum to play with was Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur. A perfectly wonderful distillery on a farm where all the fruit, spices, herbs, and such used to make their array of must-taste products are grown, Sidetrack has a bounty of fruit liqueur choices, but Strawberry went ideally (as it does with summer). Next up, more fruitiness, this time fresh from the orange’s mouth – meaning, fresh squeezed orange juice for a welcoming citrus burst. But the fruit doesn’t stop there, oh no! I also added a little Fee Brothers peachy Peach bitters, and a hint of simply syrup, which isn’t fruity, but which brings our rummy fruit salad together. You could try without, and I wouldn’t swear about it. Then, it’s on to ice and soda to keep things cool and hydrated, and voila! A sunshine’s-out-sensation!

 

fear--no-more

 

Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun

 

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Diplomático Mantuano rum

1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Strawberry liqueur

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

Dash Fee Brothers Peach bitters

1/2 ounce simple syrup

4 ounces chilled club soda

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the soda. Shake well.

 

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass.

 

3. Top with the club soda. Stir, not mightily, but in a manner that brings everything together. Enjoy the fearing no more.

 

August 7, 2020

What I’m Drinking: An Old Fashioned with Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon

Sometimes you just have to say, damn the torpedoes, I’m doing this (“this” can mean a number of things, but I usually take it to mean I’m doing something that may be worthy, but also perhaps a bit foolish, or something most might not do, lacking the courage and/or foolishness, depending on your perspective). Often, for me, it’s something with, admittedly, very little real world consequences, revolving around using a snazzy base spirit that should probably be just sipped solo in a cocktail, or having what many consider a more serious spirit-forward drink in the heat of summer. Well, “I yam what I yam” as a famous philosopher once said. Today, said happening revolves around the scrumptious (people should say scrumptious about whiskey more) Four Roses Small Batch Select bourbon, a sample of which arrived in the mail recently (I know, I’m lucky).

 

Crafted by a mixing of six of the Four Roses bourbon recipes – said six all aged six years by the way, and lucky there’s not one more six in there or I’d be worried – and hitting a hardy 104 proof, this bourbon is a shining example of scrumptious. Hah! I am going to force the usage of scrumptious in! Scrumptious from the very first small, with oak, baking berries, and spices (including, I felt, a nice nutmeg, which is one of my favorites, and a soupçon of cloves and cinnamon). When it hits your mouth, there’s more fruit – summertime fruitiness, really – oak, a little pepper, a little vanilla, all of which trails off with a lingering sweeter vanilla, spice, and toasty oak. A lovely, dare I say again, scrumptious, sip, and then more sips.

 

However! As alluded to above, I couldn’t leave it at that, or even with just a cube of ice (nice!) or drops of water (also, nice!), I had to do a little mixing. Or, in this case, I had to have my whiskey-loving pal Jeremy do some mixing, as he was sampling too – from a safe distance and with proper safety stuff of course. With a bourbon this good, though, you don’t want to go too far afield; you want to let it shine and all. So, kept it to the classic, legendary, Old Fashioned. Now, I have to say, cause of distancing and sipping, I didn’t actually see Jeremy make said Old Fashioneds, so I’m not 100% sure if his recipe is the same as the below, which is mine – but it tasted darn close, and tasted, well, scrumptious! The little bit of extra sweet mingled in a most mighty manner with the bourbon’s sweetness, and the herbal from the bitters paired with the bourbon’s spice oh-so-pleasantly. Or, if you’d like, scrumptious-ly. I’d try it if I were you. You deserve it.

old-fashioned

Old Fashioned

1 sugar cube (or 1 teaspoon sugar)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Orange slice (see Note on garnishes)

Ice cubes

2-1/2 ounces Four Roses Small Batch Select Bourbon

 

1. Put the sugar in an old-fashioned glass, of course. Add the bitters and the orange slice, if you wish.

 

2. Using a muddler or very solid wooden spoon, muddle up the sugar and bitters, along with the orange slice.

 

3, Place a couple of ice cubes in the glass. Add the bourbon, slowly and with reverence.

 

4. Stir briefly. Think about scrumptiousness.

 

A Note: The hoohaw about the garnish on an Old Fashioned can go on forever. Today, orange slice. Tomorrow, cherry. The next, day, who knows. My take is always no fruit salad (meaning, don’t go overboard). But I’ll admit to switching my fruit alliance on occasion, and you can swear at me if you want, just don’t take my drink.

 

July 17, 2020

What I’m Drinking: At Once to Ashes

In the middle of summer, the heat is naturally on, but so is the barbecue-ing, the backyard smoking, and, one hopes, the sitting on the porch/picnic table/deck/backyard, consuming the edibles of the labors that have happened over the flames. Yummy, right? But not as yummy without the right drink to have not only with the consuming, but also afterwards, as you and your stomach are mellowing down. There are many worthy options for this summertime moment, but I’d like to throw another in the mix, one called At Once to Ashes, which I created. Really! See, a pal of mine (I am lucky in pals) gifted me some small bottles of smoked simple syrup recently, and while that sounds like she must have used magic to create it, she assures me it was not spells. Now, I don’t know how she (non-magically) made it, but do know it sure is delicious. I can’t ask her if you want? The syrup’s smoky-sweetness is crying out (listen, you’ll hear it) to be had after smoky eating, and also, I believe, crying out to be had with another smoky-ish, earth-y-ish favorite: mezcal. Which is what I’ve done here – I wouldn’t ignore the simple syrup, would I? No! But I wouldn’t stop there, either. I’ve also added Grandeza, a lush orange liqueur made here in WA. Its orange flavor really pops, and it also adds another sidge of sweet, too. You can sub another orange liqueur if you’d like, but Don Ho will not sing of it. But it’ll still taste good! I wanted to balance the sweetness a bit, and also wanted to add a few herbal notes, and a hint of a hot spice kick, so our final ingredients here are Scrappy’s Orange bitters, and Scrappy’s Firewater tincture. If you like heat (habanero heat), then Firewater better be on your radar pals, cause it brings it. End result: At Once to Ashes is smoky-spice-citrus-sweet loveliness in a glass. Enjoy!

 At-Once-To-Ashes

At Once to Ashes

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces mezcal

1/2 ounce smoked simple syrup

1/2 ounce Grandeza

Dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters

Dash Scrappy’s Firewater tincture

Big ice cube (or a few good-sized ice cubes)

Cherry, for garnish

 

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the liquids. Shake well.

 

2. Add a big (really big) ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass. Garnish with a cherry. Rainer if you have it!

July 10, 2020

What I’m Drinking: Ardbeg Wee Beastie Whisky and Ardbeg Blaaack Whisky

I hear you, don’t worry – it’s July, it’s summer, it’s hot, the sweat is pouring off your hard-working brow, the yard has yet to be mowed (again), the sun is so high and hot in the sky, a winter-ific, fall-tastic, chill-in-the-air idealistic, hearty, flavorful, Scotch whisky is perhaps the last slow sipper that comes to mind. But darn it, conventions are made to be chucked, and sometimes the last idea is the most needed, the best. Just like some days you realize that only a good whisky will balance out the hours. Lucky for me, I recently received not one, but two good ones in the mail (lovely mail!), and so quenched my summer Scotch thirst with Ardbeg Wee Beastie and Ardbeg Blaaack. And what lovely tipples they are!

ardbeg

Let’s start with Ardbeg Wee Beastie, a youthful number at just five years of age (“mellowed” as they say in ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso sherry casks), but packing a walloping taste none-the-less, like a powerful toddler you won’t want to ignore. Especially if you like some smoke in your sip – that smokiness is a fine match for summer, too, if you think about all the flame-y cooking happening. But even though it’s young and bold, it’s smooth, too, starting with a peat-y, pepper-y, fire-y nose that ends sweet with a hint of citrus. That folds into a taste that’s smoky as well, especially at the tail, but with loads of spice, a little vanilla, and herbs intertwined. A few drops of water are a neat addition, bringing the smoke, vanilla, and citrus notes more into play.

 

Right along the heels (it’s a two-Scotch day after all!) is Ardbeg Blaaack, the limited-edition whisky released to celebrate and commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Ardbeg Committee. What is the Ardbeg Committee? It’s a sweet fan club, really, one that spreads the good Ardbeg word as well as getting some neat stuff, too. But back to the Blaaack! New Zealand Pinot Noir casks (first time Ardbeg’s used these for those counting) held the lush liquid. New Zealand and Scotland’s shared sheep-ness add the extra “baaa” to the name! But what about the taste? Glad you asked! The aroma has a distinctive berry-ness (summery!), light smoke, and hints of flowers and oak, flowing into a flavor that’s more berries, baked fruit, cherries, a bit of oak and nuttiness, followed by a little spice and more fruit. Yummy. Add a little water here, and the cherry notes are unleashed even more, with an echo of citrus along for the ride.

 

And now you have two great reasons for believing me that whisky  can be just the ticket, even in the height of summer.

Rathbun on Film