June 23, 2017
It’s interesting – we hear “leaves” and we think “fall,” because seasonally that’s when leaves become more iconic I suppose. Which may be backwards, since so many leaves are in place now, providing shade and such. And anyway, when titling this drink “Afternoon Leaves,” I was thinking more that it feels like such a nice drink for the end of the afternoon, the moment when afternoon itself is leaving to make room for dusk and evening.
Whew, that almost got too sappy! Late afternoon is also when many have tea (those pals in the U.K. first and foremost perhaps), and that also ties into this drink, since one of the two ingredients is Four Leaf Spirits Liath, an Earl Grey tea-infused gin. Pretty neat! Four Leaf is a small (in square feet, but not in taste) distillery in Woodinville, WA that makes tea-infused spirits and liqueurs (and rums under the Puget Sound Rum Company moniker), and also donates a portion of proceeds to cancer research and education-focused non-profits. Drinking and doing good is, well, good!
The Liath (named after the Irish for “grey”) is swell all on its own, with the juniper and botanicals from the gin mingling around the citrusy bergamot from the tea. But in the declining afternoon hours (which can be a little lonely), I wouldn’t want it to operate alone, and so picked a perfect partner: Italian vermouth legends Carpano’s Bianco vermouth.
I just recently picked up a bottle of this elixir, and it’s a special tipple, starting from the citrus, fruit, and nutty nose to the light-but-full taste, which has the flavors promised to the nose, with a touch of white-wine mineral-ness. Delicious solo as well, when combined with the Liath you have a complex but so sip-able cocktail. Try it, in the afternoon of course.
2 ounces Four Leaf Spirits Liath Earl Grey tea-infused gin
1 ounce Carpano Bianco
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our two charmers. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
May 26, 2017
As all know, I am fond of many local WA-state distillers, and one of my very favorites (you probably know this too, having been reading this blog for years and years, correct?) is a distillery on a farm – farm and distillery all the same fine folks – in a valley outside of Kent, WA, a distillery called Sidetrack. Not only do they deliver fine products using produce grown on their farm, but they also have a beautiful event space in a refurbished old barn. Super swell stuff. While they get a lot of deserved plaudits for their liqueurs (from fruit to walnut-based Nocino to more exotic fare like my favorite Lemon Verbena), they also make clear, European-style, fruit brandies. Delicious, strong, and hopefully liquids more Americans will start sipping. I think my favorite Sidetrack brandy – though I like them all – is Strawberry. It’s like the essence of strawberry, the Platonic ideal, while being robust and umph-y. It is a spirit, after all. I like it so much that I wanted to create a drink with it, but it was tough (as it can be with many fruit brandies) at first, due to user error. Hahaha. But I kept at it, and eventually went with a favorite dessert inspiration, the king of dessert drinks, the Alexander. Then, after a bunch of tweaks, the below emerged, and is lush, layered, and if I can say while being humble, pretty darn wonderful. Good after dinner both because of its hints of dessert and because of its strong backbone.
1-1/2 ounces Sidetrack Strawberry brandy
1 ounce Depth crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake really well. Really well!
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of orchards.
A Note: An actual strawberry would make a fine garnish here, but sadly I was strawberry deficient.
May 19, 2017
Washington is a state under a good sign, one with I think an awesome good fairy (or whatever mythological taker-carer-of creature you’d like), and just lucky, because we have such an outstanding local distillery community. We have distillers of all types, and some make a wide range of tasty products – one of those is Skip Rock distillery out of Snohomish, WA. They make rums, whiskeys, vodkas, liqueurs, and recently unveiled their Bicycle Tree gin, named after a local legendary tree you could ride cycles through, and with a classic-via-the-northwest flavor (juniper, local botanicals, yumminess). They have so many options I thought – why not make a single-distillery cocktail? Single-barrel things are all the rage, but a single-distillery cocktail, which only uses ingredients from one distillery? That’s next wave stuff people! And exactly what I did here, using that new gin as a base, then their tangy and fresh Raspberry liqueur with it, and a little of their walnut-y Nocino to round it out. Lots of layers of flavors, starting with fruit and those gin-ical botanicals and spices, and then ending a little nutty, it’s all here, and all from one distillery.
1-1/2 ounces Skip Rock Bicycle Tree gin
1 ounce Skip Rock Raspberry liqueur
1/2 ounce Skip Rock Nocino
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the Skip Rock. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up.
February 28, 2017
Hello cocktail lovers, spirt lovers, drink lovers, bar lovers, Seattle lovers, and those of you who like me combine all of the above. If you’ve missed any of my recent pieces for the swell Seattle magazine, well, I feel for you. So much so that I’m linking to some of them here, so you can catch up on your reading and sipping:
• Sip on This: Valentine’s Day Cocktail Ideas
• Three Impressions of Thackeray
• Three Impressions of Westland Distillery’s Cantilever Room
• Three Impressions of Sovereign
September 6, 2016
Hey, guess what? I’ve written some fun and exciting (well, I think so!) items about booze, bars, and booze for the mighty Seattle magazine lately, and just in case you might have missed them (which would make me sad), I’m going to list them right here and now:
• German Cocktails at Altstadt, Vote for Local Distillers and More
• Three Impressions of Corvus & Co.
• New Gin from Wildwood Spirits and More Distillery News
• Super Chilly Summer Drinks in Seattle Bars
• Three Impressions of The Nest
* See all Seattle magazine pieces by me
January 20, 2015
Moonshine has made a huge comeback onto legal liquor store shelves lately, and much of it is pretty darn swell, dropping the burns-you-all-the-way-down personality for one of tasty-but-strong. And guess what? Washington State has some of the finest ‘shine around. Learn more in a moonshine article I recently wrote for Seattle magazine.
*Read Washington Moonshines to Drink Now
November 29, 2011
Even if you don’t live in Seattle, the general Seattle area, in the western part of Washington State, Washington State, the Pacific Northwest, or even the United States, if you like good liquors and liqueurs and cocktails then you’ll probably want to read my Seattle Magazine article on the host of new local-ish distilleries. I don’t want to say too much (cause when you go read it, you’re going to get a lot of me anyway), but A: though it’s good online, pick up a real, in-your-hands, copy of the issue if you can because the layout and photos and such are fantastic in mag form (even more than the online version, which is also awesome), and B: reading through the article again makes me even happier to live out here. Thanks to all the distillers for talking to me and taking me around, it was one tasty article to write. Oh, also, I have an accompanying article about 12 specific new Seattle bottles-of-booze I thought were worth sipping—ones tasted while writing (sometimes tasted for the 2nd or 32nd time) the main distillery article. You should check those out, and the new liquors and liqueurs coming out all the time, by golly. If you don’t live here, come on by to visit and then check ‘em out. We’ll be glad to see you.