December 22, 2017
Washington State distillers are dreamy (you probably have realized my feelings in this already, as I do go on – but they are awesome!), with so many worthy bottles out already, and more continuing to be released regularly. The latest example? Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon. A follow up to their highly-regarded 20-month aged Greenhorn bourbon, Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon is aged 3-1/2 years, and made from sweet yellow corn and soft white wheat from Grant County, WA, and the distiller’s proprietary wild-yeast strain harvested from a local apple orchard. If that wasn’t enough, though, the real sets-it-apart-thing here is that the aging takes place on a boathouse floating on the Puget Sound – from what I’ve been told, it’s the only whiskey in the world aged that long on the water, where the waves and tides speed up the aging (that’s the theory, at least). End result? A darn tasty tipple, with some nice sweetness from the wheat, and a mingling of sea-salted caramel, toffee, fig, orange, and chocolate.
It’s dandy to enjoy as a solo act, but of course I also wanted to try it in cocktails, and after trying this and then trying that, liked it best in The Hounds They Start to Roar. That drink has a bit of a history, which we won’t get it to too much here (you’ve already read the full story in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz anyway, right? Right!), but I will remind you that the name comes from a Tom Waits’ song, as do the ingredients, in a way. Said ingredients are bourbon, naturally, but also St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram (the spice flavors contained therein, cinnamon, clove, and others, go wonderfully with the Chambers Bay bourbon mélange), brandy (which helps balance everything out), and Peychaud’s bitters (which adds another herbal tint or two). Together, it’s a drink fit for any sailor, dog lover, song-singer, or person reading this blog, which means you. Take it out for a walk or a sail and see if I’m right.
The Hounds They Start to Roar, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce brandy
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or comparable.
December 5, 2017
Probably not surprising – due to the fact that Washington has tons of scrumptious fruit being brought to us lucky consumers – but there are loads of fruit brandies being made in this state. I’m talking traditional, strong, European-style fruit brandy, the very essence of the fruit bottled up. I recently wrote all about the wave of Washington eau de vie, as fruit brandy is also called, for the mighty Seattle magazine, along with highlighting a few favs. Don’t miss it!
Read Northwest Distillers Borrow European Traditions for Fruit Brandies now!
July 28, 2017
Not too many weeks in the past, I had a drink here on the Spiked Punch called Afternoon Leaves, featuring Four Leaf Spirits’ Liath Earl Grey tea-infused gin and mentioned they also make rums as the Puget Sound Rum Company (and that they donate a portion of proceeds to cancer research and education-focused non-profits). Because I didn’t want to make the rums jealous, I wanted to have a drink with one of them as well – and decided I’d go with a classical influence. Or, at least, a summer favorite from days of yore. Yore here meaning 1947, and the influencer being a drink from tiki hero Trader Vic called The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
As you might expect, this is traditionally made with some tropical rum, but I think Puget Sound Rum Company’s Amber Rum 47 (47 because it was made at the 47th parallel), distilled in a Jamaican-style pot still from Colombian organic unrefined cane sugar and aged for a year in ex-bourbon barrels, works wonderfully, thanks to its caramel and vanilla notes. See, those blend (well, they’re neighbors, so it makes sense) smashingly with the drink’s other ingredients. Starting with Lucky Falernum, which comes from broVo Spirits (a distillery that’s also in Woodinville, just like the Puget Sound Rum Company), and which is a high-proof falernum bursting with spice and fruit goodness, and then from there going into Cointreau and lime juice – though I go a little lighter on the lime than Trader Vic. Changing tastes and all that. I think he’d understand, once he had the first sip of this summer lovely!
The Royal Woodinville Yacht Club
2 ounces Puget Sound Rum Company Amber Rum 47
1/2 ounce broVo Lucky Falernum
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything.
2. Give the Club a good shake, but not so much that it makes you sweat. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Raise cheers in a Woodinville direction.
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