March 22, 2013

What I’m Drinking: A Cold Peroni

So, I’m in Italy. And since it’s springtime, and sunny, I’m sitting outside of Bar Pina (which is outside of Umbertide), one of the finest spots anywhere to sit in the sun and have a beer. I mean, it’s in Italy. Which means that this Friday Night Cocktail isn’t as fancy as others, but I wouldn’t trade it for any of them. And if you want to feel jealous about it all, well, that’s up to you. But a better impulse might be for you to just come on over to Pina your-own-self. It’s pretty darn fun.

PS: Yeah, Dr. Strange drinks with me when I’m at Pina. And you thought it couldn’t get any better.


October 20, 2011

Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: A Cocktail Lover’s Guide to Mixing Drinks Using New and Classic Liqueurs

Yes, I know, I’ve talked lots about the Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz release party that was at the Rob Roy a week or so ago. And I’ve posted a couple drinks from the book, and made a short video about joining the GBVF Army, that talks a bit about the book. But I haven’t given (I don’t think) the book a proper overview here yet, for those who may have missed the party and aren’t quite sure why they need a copy. So, first, a quick overview, and then (second) some fun facts.


Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz is designed in a very particular manner. Unlike other numerous classic and modern cocktail tomes available that break out chapters by base spirit (gin, vodka, brandy, whiskey, tequila, and sometimes Champagne), or the fine volumes that are alphabetical by drink, or the other worthy reads (including a few by yours truly) that break chapters out by theme, this book is divided into chapters by flavor profile. By “flavor profile” I’m talking about what the flavor is of a particular liqueur that’s responsible for the personality and taste of a drink. There’s a chapter on A Liquid Citrus Circus, for example, containing recipes highlighted by the vast panoply of fun orange and other citrus liqueurs, and a chapter that reminds you to Take Your Herbal Medicine that contains darker, more intense, herbal liqueurs that are popping up more regularly. There’s also a chapter detailing The Justice League of Vermouths–though they aren’t specifically liqueurs, vermouths and their cousins are also part of the path to joining the GBVF Army–and other flavor specific chapters. By breaking out the chapters in this flavor-oriented way, it makes it easier to plan a party around a few signature drinks as well as easier to find a particular drink matching up with what you’re craving. The idea is to make it a snap for you to pick out a few signature drinks to make any gathering sparkle: from parties of many people to those that are just you and a significant other.


Okay, now that you know a bit about the book in general, here are some specific facts you might not know:


  • GBVF has over 200 recipes, some lesser-known classics, some from here and there, and a bunch from modern pro-and-home bartenders, including recipes from: Andrew Bohrer, Ed Skoog, Matt Bohlmann, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, LUPEC Boston, Jeremy Sidener, Paul Abercrombie, Meaghan Dorman, Jay Hepburn, Robert Hess, Yuri Kato, Augusto Lino, Kelly, Magyarics, Thad Volger, Kara Newman, Jim Romdall, David Shenaut, Doug Winship, Erik Ellestad, Chantal Tseng, and probably a few others I’m forgetting a will feel bad about later. Look these fine people up and support them.


  • There are at least 14 mentions of comic book or comic strip characters, including two Dr. Strange references (to make Neilalien happy) and a whole chapter called The Justice League of Vermouths (to make pal PhiSmi happy).


  • There is one current NBA basketballer mentioned (Andrew Bogut) and three past ballers (Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Nate McMillan).


  • There are a number of sidebars to help you pick drinks for specific party occasions, including 4 Drinks for Fishing.


  • One drink is named after a short short story by the novelist J. Robert Lennon. Guess which one?


  • There are 27 Liqueur Spotlights, which go deeper into the taste, history, and personality of individual liqueurs.


  • There are two mentions of Tom Waits, and one drink (The Hounds They Start To Roar) named from a Tom Waits lyric. There is also one mention of the little known Kansas City band Shooting Star.


  • Perhaps the best Cocktail Talk type quote in the book is from Paul Holt and is on page 208 and reads thusly:

 Perhaps, after all, it is best to stick to Pernod, if the sartorial consequences of imbibing interest you as much as they do me. This if only for the reason that however you start off drinking the stuff, you’re bound to end up more or less naked.


  • Perhaps the best quote from the book itself (meaning, written by me) is “Charles H. Baker was the Grand Funk Railroad of his time.”


  • There are sidebars pointing to classic cocktail books, favorite new cocktail books, favorite booze blogs, boozy poem quotes, and other ways to stock your literal and electronic libraries.


  • Finally, the first drink in the book is the 14 Juillet and the last is the Ti Penso Sempre.


Now, you know a bit more about Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. So, whacha waiting for? Join the GBVF Army today!


March 31, 2011

Dr. Strange Sips a Negroni

I have a whole host of Dr. Strange posts over on my Italy blog (if you don’t know who Dr. Strange is, then, well, I pity you pal. Go over to Neilalien and do some learning), and have already posted this pic up there, but I liked it so much I wanted to double it up and post it here, too. The long and short is that we were in Florence, having a Negroni at Giacosa (which is the spot where the Negroni was born), and Dr. Strange was thirsty and he wanted one, too. Which was wonderful by me:

August 21, 2009

Friday Fête: Two Mystical Drinks

In honor of the two sorcerous folks who were able to say where the name “Tareva” came from in the drink “Tareva’s Tipple,” I thought I’d point you in the direction of two more drinks that have at least somewhat mystical sounding names. But first, a huge shout out to Paul de Senquisse from the blog Tears of the Night (which is in French, as Paul’s from France–that’s right, Spiked Punch is international) and to PTOR from the awesome Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog, which is not only a blog devoted to my (and your, if you’re not square) favorite Sorcerer Supreme, but also one that features Rom: Spaceknight and the Man-Thing. That is a line-up good enough to make Stan Lee cry triumphant tears of happiness true believers. I owe those two drinks, when we’re on the same multi-dimensional plane at some point. But until then, sip on these pleasant potions picked out of the drinker’s blogosphere.


  • Vampiro: Buried a bit in a hangover post (which one might have on a weeked), this savory tequila-y evilicious drink of the underworld winds its way from the LUPEC Boston blog. Only fitting, really, since those ladies are known to weave wicked liquid spells of whooping wackiness with their wondrous cocktails. Whoopee! (I suggest you read this graphic novel while drinking for maximum mayham).
  • Zamboanga Cocktail: If (and I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m just saying “if,”) there isn’t a wizard and/or warlock of some standing residing within a little known tropical country whose name is “Zamboanga” then there darn well should be. Have a few of these Cognac-and-maraschino-and-more cocktails, utilizing the useful recipe from one of the most prestidigitatously powerful cocktail blogs present, Paul Clarke’s Cocktail Chronicles, and you’ll start peering at said wizard whether he (or she) is real (or not).
November 18, 2008

What I’m Drinking Right Now: The Hour Glass

All right, all right, I know it may seem strange (not groovy and mystical like Dr. Strange either, but just downright odd) to be sipping a bubbly-cooling-kind-of-a-drink in Seattle’s damp and dreary mid-to-late November, but I’ve been working hard stocking the shelves (virtual shelves surely, but shelves) and shilling the books, not to mention raking the inordinate amount of leaves in my backyard (and, you know what, if Mr. Cherry Tree is reading this, please stop dropping basketfuls of your leaves on the ground the minute I get finished raking said ground. Wait a couple days at least. Give me that, for gosh sakes.), or writing this sentence which will never stop. Anyway, I was feeling the need for a refresher last night, but one that still had an underlying . . . strength of character. I didn’t want to go teeth-rotting sweetness, but did want a hint of sunshine. And, I wanted to be able to name drop a second super hero in one post (Hourman, that is). All of which led me to the Hour Glass:


Ice cubes

1 ounce Cognac

3/4 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce absinthe

Chilled club soda

Lemon twist, for garnish


1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, Cointreau, and absinthe. Stir well.


2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture over the ice, and then fill the glass with club soda (unless it’s a large-ish highball, then just go up three-quarters of the way).


3. Squeeze the lemon twist over the glass and drop it in.

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