This favorite of mine recently popped up in conversation with a pal-of-mine (about orange things, funny enough), and it reminded me just how much I like it. Like it? I love it! It’s a wonderfully-balanced mix – if I can say so without sounding too full-of-myself, since I created it – with some ingredients that you don’t naturally think would go together in dark rum and Campari. But thanks to the edge-smoothing triple sec (I’d say go with homemade, if you can – there’s a recipe in Luscious Liqueurs) and the peacemaker, Perychaud’s bitters, everything plays nice. It’s always tasty fun to re-discover an old liquid friend. And this is one of my besties.
There’s a delicate hint of hanky panky (not the classic drink, but the activity) in the name here, for me, at least (but I am an incurable romantic, and also like things like delicate hints, and gently bawdiness, as opposed to outright lewd-itity, I suppose. Most times!). Which is why I think this drink can cover the whole “Valentine’s Day” drink need just as well as some sweeter-in-taste, more traditionally romantic-y, numbers. Though this does have a little sweet, admittedly, along with a little citrus, and a lot of rye. In my mind, that rye is for lovers, too. But like I say, I’m an incurable romantic!
Well, it’s nearly Halloween, and that means it’s time for one of the traditions here at Spiked Punch, the one where I drink a Warlock cocktail and turn into a zombie magician of sorts. Oh, the Warlock is a good drink, too, well worthy of your spooky celebrations, with brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. I can’t wait to drink it, consequences be darned. You should take the same stance this October.
Hey, young lovers! Do you have your Valentine’s Day drink ready yet? If not, well, did you know you only have two more days to figure it out? Don’t fret though (you’ll get wrinkles). I have you covered, with the Lover’s Moon. It’s smooth, but has a little umph (like all us romantics), and lots of flavor. A swell choice! Trust me.
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, macadamia liqueur, and cream. Shake well.
2. Add a cherry to each of two cocktail glasses. Strain the mix into the glasses, making sure each gets its full share. Sure, the cherries will vanish for a minute, but like the moon, they’ll reappear.
A Note: Can’t find the luscious Kahana Royale Macadamia Nut Liqueur? You could try this with another nut-based liqueur. Nocino (the Italian green walnut liqueur) would be interesting. It’d be less sweet, but still . . . intriguing. Try it, and let me know!
I’m not sure why this sort-of Manhattan-on-a-island cousin (which I first saw in Here’s How: A Round-the-World Bar Guide, Signet, 1957–not the Here’s How cocktail book with wooden covers) isn’t better known. Made with the right rum and right vermouth, it’s a should-be classic. And delicious.
In my case recently (and in what should be your case, if you can make it happen), the right rum was the memorable Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum. Holy cow, this is a rum! From Venezuela, distilled from molasses in a copper pot still, and aged for 12 years, really, it’s a sipper in most cases. However! If you are bold, and let it shine as the main player in a cocktail like this (not overwhelmed by too many ingredient), well, feel darn special cause that’ll be a great cocktail (speaking of special, this rum arrived to me via the mail. Don’t be mad). It’s won like 20 awards, and has a serious aroma: caramels, nutmeg, nuts, allspice, hints of orange, vanilla, and more. And all of those aromas come out smooth into the slightly sweet, but nowhere near sickly, taste, with even more spices. Yummy.
Picking the sweet vermouth for the below recipe was tough, due to wanting to really find something that went with that fantastic rum. I decided on La Quintinye Vermouth Royal rouge, made with 28 spices, plants, and magical items (like all vermouths), on a base of white wines, interestingly enough, and Pineau des Charentes Rouge, and it was an ideal decision. The vermouth’s flavor also has some vanilla notes, and fruit and spice, which is why it mingles so well with the rum. Try it – you can thank me later.
If you aren’t up on your ancient Greek history (shame on you – or, on us, as my memory keeps getting worse, too, making my ancient Greek, not to mention last week, a little hazy at times), Iollas was the son of a Macedonian general, and a royal youth at the court of Alexander the Great. Heavy. The story goes, when Mr. Great (as he was called) was murdered, many wanted to ascribe it to poisoning, and writers (as they’ll do) laid that serious poisoner-of-Alexander tag on Iollas, who carried the royal sipping cup during the emperor’s last sickness. How does that all tie into this drink, which isn’t poison at all, but a nectar of deliciousness? Well, for one, it utilizes mint, which was a favorite of the Greeks (still is, I suppose), and used to help folks transition into the afterlife. So, that’s a tie in. But also, I tend to think (as many do, nowadays) that Iollas wasn’t actually a poisoner, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which means he deserves a strong drink in his honor, and this beauty is that drink.
I believe that Valentine’s Day is tomorrow – be still my beating heart. If you’ve been planning a host of heart-y things for your sweetness tomorrow, then you are in fine shape. Unless you forgot to plan out the right drink for the evening. What’s that you say? You don’t have a special drink for that special somehow. Hope you like the couch. Though, since I have a warm feeling towards you (you are pretty neat), howsabout I help you out. Serve up the below, which is a tasty mix shading just a wee bit sweet, and watch the evening commence in the proper manner. Oh, you might want to whisper that Ti Penso Sempre means, “I think of you always.” That should help your cause as well.
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