December 7, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Walking Through the Shrubbery with Wintersun Aquavit

It may, at first glance, not seem for much of the world to be the season for walking outside, no matter how nice your greenery is. However, I find a brisk walk on a chilly-but-sunny day to be invigorating, especially if you do it while sipping this cocktail, and then end it with some nice, hearty, slightly sweet, baked goods. How does that all go together? Well, really, it’s thanks to Everett’s (that’s up here in the W-A for those who don’t know) Bluewater Organic Distilling, who just released their Wintersun aquavit. An organic spirit (like all of theirs), it’s a shout out to distiller John Lundin’s Swedish heritage, and with that has an essence much like the traditional aquavits you might have encountered (though there are tons), but with a distinctive balanced aroma and flavor bringing together caraway, anise, and orange.

I (don’t be jealous – it’s the holiday season) recently got a bottle in the mail and after trying it out solo (which you should too, as it’s worthy all alone), had to try it in a cocktail, too. Because that’s what I do! After playing around with a little of this and a little of that, I found some swell in-the-shaker dancing partners, starting with another Northwest hit, broVo spirits’ (from up here in Woodinville) delicious award-winning cherry liqueur Boomerang. It has a lush cherry-ness combined with a little vanilla, walnut, cinnamon, apricot, and citrus. You can – until you try it – dream about how this would combine perfectly with the Wintersun, and why the baked goods are a good idea. However! That wasn’t it. After much liquid hemming-and-hawing, I felt a little bit more of this and that was needed. And the this was old pal maraschino liqueur, and the that was Scrappy’s legendary Cardamom bitters. They rounded that spice and fruit level out to eleven. The shrubbery will feel overjoyed to have you walking through it with this mix – and you’ll be pretty happy about it, too.

walking-through-the-shubber
Walking Through the Shrubbery

Cracked ice
2 ounces Bluewater Wintersun Aquavit
3/4 ounces broVo Boomerang cherry liqueur
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur
1 dash Scrappy’s Cardamom bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass of your choosing. Garnish with the twist. Walk through shrubbery (with a big coat, if chilly).

November 30, 2018

What I’m Drinking: One More Look with Hangar 1 Rosé Vodka

Though, admittedly, there are a fair amount of decent ones out there now-a-days, I’m still a little wary of flavored vodkas. Don’t get me wrong, unlike some, I like a good vodka, one with a crisp clear taste – but have just been scared off by pre-flavored vodka nonsense in the past, where the chemicals used to created said “flavor” rule the bottle roost, so to speak. However, CA distillery Hangar 1 is pretty reliably high on the standards, and their Mandarin Blossom, especially is an old fav. So, when I recently (I know, I’m lucky!) received a bottle of their latest in the mail, I was inclined to be welcoming.

But it was a rosé vodka! Which I’d never heard of. However (again!), I am nothing if not adventuresome, so, combining that with Hangar 1’s rep, I decided to dive in (metaphorically), and – I was glad I did! Here’s the skinny: it mixes Hangar 1’s vodka and California rosé wine. That’s it. Neighbors combining together, without anything else. It has a clean, floral, apple-y nose, and an also a clean, fresh taste, with a real rosé-ness, with more floral notes and a bit of fresh berry, and a nice dry finish. It’s good all alone over a little ice, a hit for spring and summer when you want something that’s smooth, but which  has a little umph. But it’s a smart choice in fall and winter, too, when you want a dream of spring and summer.

But, as you’d expect from something made with two good neighbors, it’s neighborly playing with others in cocktails – and I didn’t wait long to start playing around with it and others. Because of those floral, botanical notes, I ended up traveling down a bouquet-ish road after trying a few things, bringing in some delicate and delicious crème di violette, and wine-based delicately herbal French aperitif Lillet Blanc (a distant cousin of sorts to our vodka, due to the wine connection). The final part of this flowery fête was a few dashes of Scrappy’s lovely Lavender bitters. All together, you’ll take many looks with One More Look, as the layers of floral fun are sure to be a hit.

one-more-lookOne More Look

Cracked ice
2 ounces Hangar 1 Rosé vodka
3/4 ounce crème di violette
1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc
Dash Scrappy’s Lavender bitters
Wide lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked iced. Add every blossom (or everything). Stir.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist. Enjoy, neighbor, enjoy.

November 23, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Gizmo

Hey, guess what – yesterday was Thanksgiving! Wait, you knew that? Then perhaps what I’m about to be telling you is something you’re already aware of, as it’s as much as Thanksgiving tradition as turkey. That’s right, I’m talking about the post-Thanksgiving (either day of, or day after, that being today) Gizmo, which utilizes the leftover cranberry sauce. This one (you probably know this, too, as it’s part of the legend of Thanksgiving) comes from Jeremy Holt, from way back to the 1600s, or thereabouts.

gizmo-2The Gizmo

Ice cubes
2-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional)

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and cranberry sauce, and syrup if using (I like the syrup, but I also like second helping of dessert). Shake exceptionally well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up around bites of leftover stuffing.

November 16, 2018

What I’m Drinking: La Rana d’Oro

Okay, yes, you caught me. I’m having a Golden Frog, and Italian-ing it in name. I’m apologize, but I just returned from Italy (or maybe I’m on my way back still, sometimes when traveling and taking time away it’s nearly dreamlike, and time does strange things to you, especially in Umbria I believe, when you’re on a hillside and the sun in bright and the air is crisp and you have a drink of vodka, Galliano, Strega, and lemon juice, and everything is so gold, gold, gold), and am craving a little more Italian vacation in my day, and so here I am with a La Rana d’Oro and you’re hassling me about the name? You probably won’t get one, then.

la-rana-d-oroLa Rana d’Oro

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces vodka
1-1/2 ounces Galliano
1/2 ounce Strega
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add the vodka, Galliano, Strega, and lemon juice. Shake well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Serve in an Italian manner.

November 9, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Volga

I’m just gonna quote one of my favorite headnotes here (I know, I know, vulgar to quote myself, but what the heck), from Good Spirits:

“It’s as if I never left. In a canoe. On the longest river in Europe, the Volga. Ice in every direction. Bears and bear-like animals along the banks. A storm railing against that canoe for every one of the 2,300 miles. Crazy birds circling, waiting for the canoe crash to pick the remains clean from splinters. Water splashing over the sides like a curse. And then the sturgeon with their beady eyes tracing my progress from the deep pockets. The banks birthing jagged rock after jagged rock, taunting me with possible capsize after capsize. But did I worry? No sir, and no ma’am. I poured a Volga and sat backed and smiled. If you’re every stuck on a long river, I suggest doing the same.”

This is made even better if you use Sidetrack Distillery’s Cassis, which is tarty, fruity, and awesome-y.

volgaThe Volga

Ice cubes
2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce cream de cassis
1/2 ounce heavy cream
Two raspberries for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the vodka, cassis, and cream. Shake well.

2. Add the two raspberries to a cocktail glass. Strain the mix into the glass. Za vashe zdorov’ye!

November 2, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Cinghiale’s Bikini

Maybe I’m missing summer, maybe I’m a bore (get it? sure you do!), maybe I’m feeling tropical amidst the descending days of winter, or maybe I’m heading to San Leo tomorrow – whichever the I’m I am, I decided I needed one of these today. It features an Italian tamarind syrup (any good molasses-y textured tamarind syrup will do, and if you can’t find one, him, try a pomegranate syrup and call this a Sleeping Cinghiale’s Bikini) and other jolly pals.

cinghiale-bikiniCinghiale’s Bikini

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeeze lime juice
1/2 Carlo Erba Tamarindo syrup
Lime slice, for garnish
Pineapple slice, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, juices, and tamarind. Shake really well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass, or whatever good glass is nearby. Garnish with the lime slice and pineapple slice.

October 26, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Sleepy Hollow

Here’s a haunting favorite I hadn’t made recently – which was foolish of me, because it’s a Halloween hit that’s good year round. But, especially due to the headless nature of the eerie moniker, it’s a chillingly good choice this time of year. Luckily, it’s not scary to make, and the taste isn’t scary at all, and your spooky party pals will love it. Heck, they might even say it’s boo-tiful. Hahaha!

sleepy-hollow-1
Sleepy Hollow, from Good Spirits

Ice cubes
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
2-1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur

1. Add the mint, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or hefty wooden spoon, muddle well.

2. Fill the cocktail shaker or glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and apricot liqueur. Shake well, but don’t lose your head.

3. Strain into a large cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a swizzle stick topped with a plastic head. Or other appropriate Halloween fun.

October 19, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Hero of the Fall

While not all of you live in wondrous WA, I don’t want you to feel I’m taunting you (you could come here and explore our distilleries, should even) by having a drink that features an ingredient you have to be here to pick up. C’mon over! And pick up a bottle of Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s 2018 Autumn Release, a Toasted Applewood Finished Rye. See, every year, the fine folks at Woodinville have an autumn release, and it’s quite an event – folks start lining up the day before to get a signed and number bottle in a commemorative wooden case. And, of course, to get the limited-edition whiskey within. This year’s takes the distillery’s 100% Rye Whiskey and adds toasted Applewood staves. Which brings out lovely apple notes mingling with the rye’s caramel and spices: cinnamon, clove, and more, all at 100 proof. It’s a great fall whiskey, and one that you might like to sit and sip solo – or with a few drops of water, or an ice cube, as the case may be – as the temperature chills.

But, it’s also a whiskey that can add beautiful background and flavor to a winter or fall cocktail, and recently I came up with a memorable one using it. For the first partner in this drink (again, don’t be upset those not living here – as you’re coming out for the rye, you can load up on a bunch of local lovelies), I went with another fall and winter favorite, Raft’s Cranberry Five Spice syrup. Raft products are made all-naturally in Portland, OR by the same folks who make the Bitter Housewife bitters and such. While “syrup” often equates with “sweet,” this one is only subtly sweet (and has no preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, or any of that nastiness), and leans more into tart, thanks to the addition of Starvation Alley (a farm in Long Beach, WA) cranberries. Beyond the cranberry, this delivers more holiday spices: ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves. It seemed the ideal match for the rye. And it was!

But we needed to invite some more friends to this fall party-in-a-glass, and I wanted to keep it local, and bring even more of those spice notes, and so added Italian-by-way-of-Seattle Letterpress Distillery’s Amaro Amarino. Carrying a little of that traditional amaro bitter, but also more baking spices and a hint of orange, it fit right in. Our final player is Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters, which underlines everything with a final herbal and spice touch. Altogether now! This is an ideal drink for before Thanksgiving or any fall or winter holiday, but perhaps an even better one for after the meal. When sipping it, it introduces itself with the whiskey festival of grain, oak, and the beginnings of the spice, transitioning into apple and fruit and more spice, and then finishing on a little tang from the cranberries and a kiss of sweetness from the syrup – with spices throughout. One to savor like a good meal, and one to savor with good friends.

hero-of-the-fallThe Hero of the Fall

Ice cubes
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Toasted Applewood Finished Rye
3/4 ounce Raft Cranberry 5 Spice Syrup
1/2 ounce Letterpress Amaro Amarino
2 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all our northwest heroes. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the bounty.

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