May 20, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Lucien Gaudin

En garde! This fencing (or sword-fighting, if you’re using, say, broadswords) drink is a well-balanced (on the balls of the feet, I suppose, if drinks had feet) number, with gin just taking the first position slightly, and then an equality of Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth providing the support, with a hint of orange the shining point (if I can drag out the metaphor). Altogether, a lot of herb-botanical-citrus goodness happening, and a cocktail that is fitting for late spring or late fall, one you can serve happily at happy hours and garden parties, and one with just enough of a story to entertain (named as it is after a famous Olympic fencer) but not so much of one to become a bore. And, really, sipping it is much finer than any sort of fight, even a mock one.

lucien-gaudin

 

Lucien Gaudin

 

Cracked ice

1 ounce gin

1/2 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce Campari

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

Orange twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth. Stir well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

April 12, 2022

Cocktail Talk: Mystery of the Dead Police

mystery-dead-policeI do so love me a good Pocket Book (not “pocketbook” as in the old-timey word for a smallish purse, at least usually), both the initial-capped brand of books made mainly in the middle of last century, and made to naturally fit in a pocket, but also the many books of the same size but not under the actual kangaroo-reading-a-book-with-a-backup-book-in-the-pouch-logo’d brand. For one, many of this ilk fell into the mystery genre (which I like), though sci-fi, romance, westerns, all found their way into pockets. But also, just the idea of a non-massive book that was easily totable for the bus, or the park bench, or the couch, or anywhere, so you were always ready for reading – I like, that too! Add in that many of the books have grab-your-eyes covers (it was all about getting those newsstand eyeballs), and, well, me and pocket books (branded and not) get along. Which isn’t to say I like every single pocket-sized book, as there are of course as many clunkers in that book-size-genre as any other. Even the book I’m going to Cocktail Talk from today, the Mystery of the Dead Police, didn’t set my world on fire. An interesting set up (London police being killed at random), but the main characters just didn’t grab, and neither did the writing in the main. However, being a pocket-sized book, it wasn’t an inordinately long read, and still had some good twists here and there, but most of all it has the below quote, where two characters drink White Ladies (after mulling about drinking some other choice classics). How often do book characters drink White Ladies? Not enough! Honestly (why not!) speaking of “not enough” I don’t think there are enough White Ladies being consumed today – I’ll bet half the bars within say 20 minutes of me even in Seattle (home of genius bartenders) wouldn’t know what a White Lady was (gin, lemon, Cointreau, egg white), sadly. But at least our pocket-book pals below know!

 

“What about a cocktail,” said Nicholas Revel, and sat himself down to face her. His hand pressed the bell push upon the table leg.

Jane, as she has confessed, goggled.

“I . . .” she began. “What . . .”

Giulio came hurrying.

“Dry Martini?” said Nicholas Revel. “Bronx? Sidecar? White Lady? . . . Try a White Lady – yes, a White Lady’s just the thing for this morning. Giulio, two large White Ladies – not too much lemon, and make it snappy.”

 

— Philip MacDonald, Mystery of the Dead Police

November 2, 2021

Cocktail Talk: Martinis and Murder (Part IV!)

martinis-murderWay back now, oh, 6 years ago (wowza, times flies) or thereabouts I first read the Henry Kane pulper Martinis and Murder, starring detective, drinker, dancer (well, probably), romancer (certainly), and puncher Peter Chambers. And had a number of Cocktail Talks from it (check out Martinis and Murder Part I, Part II, and Part III to get caught up a bit). But recently I was hankering for some pocket-sized pulp reading, as I often am, and was pulled in by its catchy title and even-more-catchy cover, so re-read it. And, you know what? I found even more Cocktail Talk worthy quotes. The book is spilling boozy goodness (around some murdering and mystery-ing and hard-boiled action and smooching and such). Heck, in six years from now, I’ll probably read it again, and find even more potable quotables. But for today, let’s go with the below.

 

I came back and I asked, “How about some of the finest Sidecars ever concocted?”

“If you let me watch.”

“Why not?”

She trailed behind me. I turned and pushed her against the wall of the kitchen and kissed her hard.

“That for inspiration? she gasped.

“That’s for nothing,” I said.

I went to work with lemons and Cointreau and Cognac.

We brought the mixer into the living room, and in no time at all, fleece gathered.

 

–Henry Kane, Martinis and Murder

July 9, 2021

What I’m Drinking: The Ponce de León

Oh, the life of a 1500’s explorer and colonialist, traipsing around under the sunshine, and probably never having this drink. I mean, without a time machine, I’ll admit, if I knew where and why this particular drink was attached to this particular explorer, I can’t remember it. There is a nice French and the Caribbean tying-in, as the drink features the boldness and beauty of both Cognac and rum, so at least there is some here-to-there-ing happening (though Ponce was from Spain, but let’s bring the Euro together today). However! The drink also contains Cointreau, which naturally came about a little later. And then there’s grapefruit juice and sparkling wine, which might imply a little globe-trotting. It’s a little elegant, which could be like the curve of a conquistador’s helmet, if you want to go along that particular flight of fancy. But overall, I think it’s that if you drink a couple of these, you may decide to go exploring, or at least meander in your mind hither and yon, or at least sit on the couch and watch a program that takes you on a exploration. However! If you want to just enjoy this layered, effervescent, citrus-y, number on a sunshine-y day without worrying about how our explorer name ties in, I certainly wouldn’t hassle you about it.

 ponce-de-leon

The Ponce de León, from Dark Spirits

 

Ice cubes

1 ounce Cognac

1/2 ounce white rum

1/2  ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, rum, Cointreau, and grapefruit juice. Shake well.

 

2. Strain through a fine strainer into saucer-style Champagne glass or cocktail or coupe glass. Fill the glass not quite to the top with the Champagne.

August 23, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Bubbly Colonial

bubble-colonialHello summertime! Sum, sum, summertime! What’s shaking? Or, in the case of this drink, not shaken at all. But it is a swell summertime sipper, one that I featured already on this blog – but like 8 years ago if you can believe it. 8 years! Holy cow, time flows like rum in an upside-down bottle. But here’s the skinny (or, in my, case, not so skinny). I had some extra limes lately, and the mint plant in the backyard is in full summer mint-in, so I thought, the other day, when the sun high in the sky was demanding a bubble drink – howsabout the Bubble Colonial, and it’s tasty lime-mint simple syrup? And then I thought, heck ya! And so, here we are, making summer even better with bubbles (and rum, lime-mint simple, Cointreau, and soda – and more lime). Yay!

The Bubble Colonial

 Ice cubes

2 ounces Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum (this is what I originally used, but regular white or dark rum works actually)

1/2-ounce lime-mint simple syrup (see Note below)

1/4-ounce Cointreau

Chilled club soda

Lime wheel, for garnish

 

1. Fill a highball glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, syrup, and Cointreau. Stir thrice.

2. Fill the glass almost to the rim with club soda. Stir again, slowing but seriously, working to bring everything together. Squeeze the lime wheel into the glass, and then drop it in.

 

A Note: To make the lime-mint simple syrup, add two whole lime peels, 4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice, 3 cups sugar, 2-1/2 cups water, and 2 cups fresh mint to a medium-sized sauce pan. Put it on the stove over medium-high heat. Let it just come to a boil, simmer for five or so minutes, and then let everything steep in the pan for at least an hour. Strain and stir in the fridge if you don’t use it right away.

June 14, 2019

What I’m Drinking: Smoke in the Grove with Ardbeg Uigeadail

I know you know about Ardbeg Uigeadail (because you are smart and know things). I mean, it was named World Whiskey of the Year by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, due to its “complexity” and “silky brilliance,” is crafted with care by the now-legendary Islay distillery, has a name that’s also unforgettable (and pronounced “Oog-a-dal” which is just plain fun) and coming from a loch near the distillery, is aged in ex bourbon barrels and sherry butts, boasts a lovely golden hue, and is freakishly reasonable. Especially when you consider the rich aroma of peat, walnuts, a little sea and forest, and spice, the taste of honey, malt, more spice, then a big, muscular-but-smooth smoke, and a raisin, caramel, smoke finish. I mean, with all of that, I know you know about it – of you should.

As you’d expect, it’s a swell sipping Scotch, solo, over an ice piece or two, or with a little splash of spring water. Yummy, indeed. However, when I was lucky enough (don’t be mad at me, please) to get a bottle in the mail the other day, I of course had some solo, but then had to also try it in a cocktail. With a sipper this swell, you don’t need to or want to bring too many dancing partners into the set. Keeping it simple is key, letting this malt shine, while accenting a little in the corners with appropriate additions. Here, I went with orange stalwart and cocktail classic Cointreau. To bring a few more herbal/spice notes under our big two, I brought in two bitters, just a dash of each: Regan’s orange bitters and old pal Peychuad’s. Altogether, the orange and bitter-ing players add to the Uigdeadail, while letting it take the lead. Smoke in the Grove’s flavor-filled, hearty, but maintaining that silky brilliance. Yummy, again.

smoke-in-the-grove
Smoke in the Grove

Cracked ice
2-1/2 ounces Ardbeg Uigeadail
3/4 ounces Cointreau
Dash Regan’s orange bitters
Dash Peychaud’s bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. I know you know how you good it is, but hey, drink it anyway.

March 8, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Leaping Drive

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.

leaping-drive
The Leaping Drive

Ice cubes
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.

February 22, 2019

What I’m Drinking: The Seelbach

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.

seelbach-sm
The Seelbach

1 ounce bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
7 dashes Angostura bitters
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish

1. Pour the bourbon, Cointreau, and the two bitters into a flute glass. Stir briefly.

2. Fill the flute almost to the top with the chilled Champagne or sparkling wine. Stir again, but don’t get nutty about it. Garnish with the orange twist.

Rathbun on Film