October 2, 2018
I have a fair amount of books by Cornell Woolrich
(writer of Rear Window and many other memorable noir-y numbers, though criminally under-read and under-known today, and also a fella who had a not-very-peppy life, for being a big seller, to say the least), and go through phases where he’s a favorite – well, maybe he always is, but I have to be in the right mood, if that makes sense, or ready for the right mood. His books are very edge-of-your-seat in a way that’s all his own. Not the breakneck pace of some, not the catchy lines and characters of others, but his leads are always in a depressing, serious, jam of some sort (I’m underselling with “jam”), and slowly, with the tension every-increasing, trying to find a way out. Take The Black Angel
. The lead lady has a husband, who’s been cheating and who is on death row for the death of his mistress, but our wonderful lead believe he’s innocent and so goes through a serious of super harrowing sort-of undercover escapades to try and find the real murderer – and it gets more nerve-wracking and ultimately depressing from there. But the atmospherics and language are all amazing. And there are some really good bar scenes, too, including the below, about cocktails and dating:
“There’s no good reason for getting stuck, really. It’s the simplest thing in the world. You see the thing through past the cocktails. I meant, a cocktail will get you through practically anything, anyway. If it’s the face that bothers you you’ve got an olive to look at instead. Then with the soup, you step outside a second to buy a pack of cigarettes. You pick some brand you’re dammed sure they won’t be able to bring to your table, in case there happens to be a ciggie girl in the place.”
–Cornell Woolrich, The Black Angel
August 31, 2018
A swell drink as we slowly shift away from the height of summer into the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the Bijou, as legends have it, was originally created by the legendary Harry Johnson in the late 1800s, with a recipe printed in his New and Improved Bartender Manual from 1900. But I first found it in The Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe (published first in 1946). The name comes from the jewel definition of Bijou, as the drink has three ingredients aligning with jewels: gin and diamond, sweet vermouth and ruby, and Green Chartreuse and emeralds. Pretty!
Bijou, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1 -1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Chartreuse, and vermouth. Stir well.
2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in.
August 17, 2018
It was long ago – just last week! – when I had a drink here on the Spiked Punch featuring Louis Raison French Cidre, or cider, made in France, by the Raison family who’ve been making such since 1923. That drink was called The Puget Seine (being a drink that used ingredients from hither and yon), and if you missed it, go back in time and drink it up.
It was so good, that I wanted to try another cider cocktail (or cidre cocktail) right after, going in a different direction, to see where I might land. And I landed with Brightly Rouged Cheeks! What, I hear you ask, is that? Not a cosmetic, I assure you. But a completely different cider drink, one’s that’s also swell for August, using some summer favorites, including mezcal. That’s right, mezcal and apples, and you know what – delicious! This time, I used Louis Raison’s Rouge Delice cidre, made from bittersweet and Rouge Delice apples (you may have guessed the latter). It’s a stitch redder in color (you may have guessed that, too), with a floral, apple, plum flavor, a hint sweeter than other Louis Raisons, but not sickly sweet like some “ciders” out there.
I decided a splash of zing and heat might be nice (sometimes, spiciness in a hot way mingles memorably with the high mercury days of summer), so brought the world’s finest ancho chile liqueur – perhaps the only, but oh so great, and such a favorite of mine – into our party, Ancho Reyes. Everything was going well, but the drink needed something more. Voila! Bitters. And is so often the case. The time, it was The Bitter Housewife Aromatic bitters, whose cherry, ginger, spice, bitter nature brought the needed flush. A wedge of lime, and we’re all set for a sunshine day.
Brightly Rouged Cheeks
2 ounces Montelobos Mezcal Jovan
1/2 ounce Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur
Dash Bitter Housewife Aromatic bitters
Big ice cube
3 ounces Louis Raison Rouge Delice cidre
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the mezcal, Ancho Reyes, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Add a big ice cubes (or a few pretty big ice cubes) to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix from above into the glass.
3. Top with the cidre. Stir to combine. Squeeze the lime wedge above the drink and drop it in. And start sipping.
PS: Want to learn a bit more about Montelobos Mezcal Jovan, check out the Fire on Popocatépetl cocktail, which is, if I can say it, amazing.
August 10, 2018
The middle-to-beginning edge of August is a hot spot in many parts of the world – Seattle, my part at the moment, for example, is heated this time of year, though the temperatures might not seem so high to some, to me, they demand a refreshing tall drink with lots of ice. A cold cider cocktail, for example, isn’t a bad thing this time of year – actually, it’s a good thing! And, what luck, I just received some cidre in the mail. What’s that you say? I’m spelling wrongly? Well, friend, that’s just not true, because specifically I received some Louis Raison cidre – the cider master who popularized cider (French cidre) across France, the stories say.
In this cocktail, I use Original Crisp Louis Raison cidre, which is made from 100% French bittersweet apples. It’s a brightly-flavored, crisp, cider, with a fruity-but-not-to-sweet nature, and little honey and nuts on the nose, and an apple-y, woodsy, taste. I always like apples and ginger as a combo, so the first ingredient I decided to try with this cidre was Salish Sea’s Ginger liqueur. Made up this-a-way with all-organic ingredients, Salish Sea liqueurs are amazing, known for their creative and pure flavors, and the Ginger has the hottest (in a good spice way) and freshest ginger-y taste I’ve had in a liqueur. If you can’t make the trip up to WA to get some, then, well, I feel sad for you – it’s summer, take a vacation! You could try another ginger liqueur here. You won’t get the same ginger umph, but needs must – and use a little less, because most are sweeter than the Salish Sea.
But those two ingredients were just the beginning – or, the first two-thirds. I wanted a solid base (spirit, that is) as well, and after trying this and that, I came back to where I should have started, it being summer and all: rum. Specifically Flor de Caña Añejo Oro, a four-year-old gold-medal-winning amber rum with a lush, vanilla, nuttiness that teamed up like a summer dream with our other two champs. Altogether, our globe-trotting cider cocktail has fresh taste underlined by all sorts of spice currents. It’s ideal for August – or, really, anytime.
The Puget Seine
1-1/2 ounces Flor de Caña Añejo Oro rum
3/4 ounce Salish Sea Ginger liqueur
4 ounces Louis Raison Original Crisp cidre
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum and ginger liqueur. Stir.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass.
3. Top with the cidre, and stir to combine. Drink up!
August 3, 2018
The Americano is a summertime favorite around my back porch, and should be one around yours, too. It’s been consumed as a warm-weather aperitivo for well over a hundred years, tracing its history back to at least 1860, and is a snap to make (you don’t want to be sweating drink-construction too much when the heat is on). Also, if you’ve been dreaming of a vacation, but just haven’t been able to take one yet, this can help transport you to Italy, in your mind, at least. Which is better than nothing!
The Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Chilled club soda
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir gently.
2. Add club soda to the glass until the glass is almost full. Garnish with an orange slice.
June 29, 2018
This should be your go-to this summer (or one of them, at least), as it’ll transport you all over Europe without you having to leave the yard, while at the same time serving as a cool cooler, just as you want when the temps are tempting the higher digits. It was created by an old pal and bartending legend, Jeremy Sidener (who owns the Eighth Street Taproom in Lawrence, KS), who was genius enough to bring together the herbally Italian amaro Averna (which is about in the middle of the bitter scale when looking over the amaro family) and French herb-y Bénédictine, along with cherry brandy, lemon juice, and soda. I myself said in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz that “the result will break any hold a dusty, hot summer’s day has on you.”
The Sicilian Sling
1-1/2 ounces Averna
1/2 ounce cherry brandy
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Chilled club soda
1 or 2 fresh basil leaves, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Averna, cherry brandy, Bénédictine, and lemon juice. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture into the glass. Top with chilled club soda, filling it almost to the top. Gently smack the basil leaf or leaves and let them rest on the drink’s top.
June 22, 2018
Hey, did you realize, the first day of summer was yesterday! On the calendar, it told me so, and so I thought I’d better have a Captain’s Blood to celebrate. One, because in summer, everyone is a Captain. Two, because the real blood in this drink is rum, and rum and summer go together like Captains and big hats – or big shields, if Captain America. Three, because the secondary blood in here is lime juice, which also goes so well with summer (like Captains and good catchphrases), and as a bonus will help keep the summer scurvy at bay. Four, because the tertiary blood here in orange bitters, a classic for summer and any time of year, and also a healing liquid I feel, and in summer of course you want to be healthy, Captain or not. Fifth, because this drink is easy, tangy, and boozy, all important components of summer drinks and of Captains (Captain America only the latter when not saving the galaxy naturally). Captains!
Oh, also, I used Washington-made Skiprock Distillery’s Belle Rose Amber rum, aged in used whiskey barrels; it boasts a caramel, vanilla, and sugar rum-ness accented by traces of tobacco and whiskey. I also used Washington-made Scrappy’s Orange bitters, because I love the locals, sure, but also cause it’s a beaut of a bitters, using fresh and bitter oranges and peels, and a nice orange-and-herbal flavor.
2-1/2 ounces Skiprock Belle Rose Amber rum
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Giant ice cube
Lime slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the rum, two dashes bitters, and lime juice. Shake, brave Captain, shake.
2. Add your giant ice cube to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix through a fine strainer over the cube into the glass.
A Note: You can – and I have – have this up. But if it’s really sunny, get that ice cube going.
June 15, 2018
We are now moving our individual boats and vessels into what – for many – counts as vacation season. Which means it’s a time for fun, but also, naturally, a time for waiting in lines. Now, I’m not saying you should be drinking while waiting in said lines, but hey, once you get through said lines, you may well need a refreshing drink, and perhaps one with a little kick, and one which references the vacationing and such because if we can’t come full circle, then it’s worth asking what it’s all for, anyway, and summer certainly isn’t the season for such deep questionings. I mean, it’s summer!
This here drink fits said bill, cozily, and in a Washington-state-meets-France way, as it only contains three ingredients, and two are from WA and one from FR. First up, Vashon-island- (speaking of ferry lines) made Seattle Distilling Company Idle Hour single malt whiskey, a delicious Irish-whiskey-leaning single malt. Second, France’s legendary herbal liqueur Bénédictine. Third, originally, at least, when I first made this, many vacations ago, was another Vashon Island hit, Vashon Brewing Company’s Cherrywood Smoked porter. Now, this is a delicacy – heck, all three are! But if you absolutely can’t find it, you could sub in another porter, and be okay. Better than okay, even! And while it’s won’t be the same journey, it’ll still fulfill that post-line-waiting need in a dandy manner.
The Idle Ferry
1-1/2 ounces Seattle Distilling Company Idle Hour single malt whiskey
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
4 ounces Vashon Brewing Company’s Cherrywood Smoked porter
1. Add three or four ice cubes to a highball or comparable glass. Add the whiskey and the Benedictine. Stir.
2. Carefully add the porter to the glass. Stir carefully, from the bottom up.