May 6, 2022
Last week I went on and on about brunching and brunch season and brunch drinks and then put down the recipe for a new brunch drink Good Morning Sunshine, and all of that and you know what? Not one of you invited me to brunch. Well, my dog Ainsley did, but she’d eat all the time if it was up to her, hahaha! So, just for that, here’s another brunch drink, one from an old (but still bubbly, if I may be so bold) book of mine called, simply enough, Champagne Cocktails, said drink being called The Pensiero (which is Italian for “thought” making this drink “The Thought” which is just so deeply silly), and as you’d expect one influenced by Italy and featuring delicious Italian stalwarts Punt e’ Mes vermouth and Campari, as well as fancy frizzante ruby-esque red wine Brachetto d’Acqui (a brunch treat if ever there was one). Now, I’m just gonna sit here and wait for my invitations.
The Pensiero, from Champagne Cocktails
1 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 ounces Punt e Mes
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled Brachetto d’Acqui
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the orange juice, Punt e Mes, Campari, and simple syrup. Shake thoughtfully.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a flute glass. Top with Brachetto d’Acqui. Garnish with the lemon twist.
April 29, 2022
Does it feel like brunch season to you? It does to me! Spring when springing always sings out “brunching time is on” in my old ears for some reason. More sunshine, perhaps, or the blooming of things equates in my brain having pals over for meals that aren’t really breakfast, but aren’t yet lunch either. Bascially: brunch! Great idea, brunch, by the way. Not that I don’t like brunches throughout the year, between us, but brunching in spring is best. Perhaps because you can, after a long winter (for many), have said brunch outdoors again if you want? Perhaps because by spring the days are longer so you can work up more of a brunch appetite (lots of weeding to be done in the morning, too)? Who knows! But in honor of, let’s call it, brunch season – which of course demands more brunch drinks – here’s a new effervescent cocktail for you, the Good Morning Sunshine. I like my brunch drinks bubbly in the main, and a bit fruity, while still having a smooth kick to help ease you into afternoon napping! That little rubric leads to the ingredient list here: two kinds of juice (oj, pj), the citrus-ish lightly sweet beloved of the nation (currently) Aperol, Aperol’s tight pal Prosecco (bringing the bubbles), and then a bit of a brunch surpriser: tequila, which adds the underlying strength while also bringing a hint of smoke and vegetalness. Quite lovely I have to admit. Brunch lovely, even!
Good Morning Sunshine
1 ounce blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce orange juice
4 ounces chilled Prosecco (see Note)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all but the Prosecco. Shake well.
2. Strain into a flute glass or comparable vessel. Top with the Prosecco. Brunch = on!
A Note: Could go five ounces here if you want and are feeling extra bubbly. Up to you.
April 15, 2022
It was just hours ago (a week’s worth of hours, that is) that I was sipping some Stambecco and Soda, and in the post about it right here on the Spiked Punch, I went into some detail about Stambecco amaro (be sure to read up), which is made curiously-enough from maraschino cherries, along with a host of botanicals, spices, magic, and goats (well . . .) like any good amaro. It’s a very singular kind of a sipper, tasty, sure, but singular. While this drives it towards being something that’s swell solo, and (as demonstrated in said earlier post) with soda, I couldn’t wait when it showed up to try it mixed with a few other choice pals in a cocktail. Some experimenting of this and of that and here we are drinking How the Rogue Roar’d.
Oh, first, let me say that this cocktail isn’t roguish in the manner of a 17th century thief boosting a coach and four on a dusty road at midnight. But it does roar with a very layered flavor, and has a roguish (the twinkly-eyed lovable rogue way) combination of ingredients. But, mostly, I’ve wanted to have a drink called this forever (it’s a line from Henry IV, Part I, as well as the name of a Shakespeare and Hathaway episode), and here is one that finally deserves this very moniker. So, what’s in it? Stambecco, naturally! And, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus. You can read more about this gin treat in the The Suspended Palace with Drumshanbo Gin recipe, but I’ll say here that it boasts a host of regularly-used and rare botanicals and citrus (as well as Gunpowder Tea – which is quite roguish, if not as explosive as you might guess at first read). And, our rogue also features dry vermouth of the Dolin variety (probably needs no explanation), as well as a dash of the delectable Scrappy’s Orange bitters, and, to top it all off, a strawberry. Stambecco goesy, as you might guess, well with cherries, but the strawberry seemed so fitting a top hat for this drink, as there are oodles of fruit and spice notes, while maintaining a dry nature that the slightly sweet strawberry bounces nicely off of, and if that’s not enough, it’s April, so we can dream of summer easily, which means dreaming of strawberries. So, rogue, roar with this cocktail!
How the Rogue Roar’d
2 ounces Drumshanbo Gin with Sardinian Citrus
1 ounce Stambecco amaro
1/2 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
Dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Strawberry slice, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add all but the lone strawberry. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish – dare I say, roguishly – with the strawberry. Drink the deliciousness.
April 8, 2022
I should come up with a snazzier name here (at least “The S & S”) but sometimes keeping things simple is lovely, too! And, sometimes, when spring is starting to gently become an actual season, with flowers blooming, and love in the air, all of that goodness, simplicity in drinks is nice – especially when they’re flavorful and refreshing and dolloped with a drop of luck. In this case, my luck (sorry pals!), as I was lucky enough recently to receive a bottle of Stambecco amaro in the post. And what a beautiful bottle it is, I have to stay first off, a real work of dappled design art, from the glass texture to the goats (“Stambecco” is the name of the long-horned mountain goat roaming the Italian alps) to the text curvature to the word “Italy” in glass around the slope from neck to jar. Just lovely!
Of course, it wouldn’t be as lovely if what was contained in said bottle wasn’t tasty – luckily (again, springtime luck!) it is. Stambecco is a member of the amari family, that grouping of Italian digestif-y numbers known for being a bit bitter, but fills a niche all its own. Lighter brown in color than most (with just a hint of red), it also is intriguingly infused with maraschino cherries, along with a host of 30 botanicals including sweet and bitter oranges, coriander, marjoram, oregano, artemista, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, gentian, cinchona, rhubarb, and more, all magically combined (some call this distilling) in Piedmont, north Italy. The mix of botanicals is very friendly, very lower-mountain-field-y, with a light touch on bitter when compared to many of its amaro siblings, with a citrus and stone fruit aroma, and a singular taste where the cherries come even more into play, along with spices and an echo of nuttiness (those maraschino cherries again). Yummy stuff! And a mixture I’m excited to play around with more in cocktails, but sometimes, one wants to keep it simple, as mentioned above. So, here, today, this early April afternoon, I’m just mixing my Stambecco with soda, and topping it off with a Hotel Starlino Maraschino cherry (which also came in the post!), which is a darn delicious specimen of cherry (and one matured in their own juices – avoid those cherries that aren’t!), the ideal topper for this bubbly treat.
Stambecco and Soda
2 ounces Stambecco amaro
5 ounces chilled club soda
Hotel Starlino Maraschino cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Add the Stambecco, and dream for a moment of mountain peaks and charming goats.
2. Add the soda. Stir, but not wackily. Garnish with the cherry (if you can avoid just eating it right away, which is tough). Enjoy.
April 1, 2022
I mean no disrespect at all to my old friend gin-and-tonic (with whom I’ve shared many a fine morning, afternoon, and evening, and with whom I plan to spend many more), but I hope in today’s modern drinking age (which should be the name of a magazine, just saying), with our influx of better tonics (and many bottles items), that drinkers are expanding their horizons and sipping other-things-and-tonic, too. Especially as we roll into springtime with eyes all bright and sunshine all jaunty in the sky during more and more days, expanding your things-and-tonic list provides a nice range of refreshing flavorful sippers. Take example A: the Lillet Rouge and Tonic I’m drinking as I type. First, let me say that I think Lillet Blanc and Lillet Rose would both be dandy with tonic, too. But today it’s Lillet Rouge. Like all Lillets, it’s a French-wine-based aperitif (here it’s Merlot and Cab Sav), one with deep ripe fruit (dark berries, orange, a little cherry) notes accented by vanilla spice and just a whisper of bitter. For the tonic side of things, I’m a proponent of tonic syrups when available (I like the rich flavors and ability to control the amount), and went with locally-made-in-WA &Tonic tonic syrup, which has a lovely citrus panache (it’s made from hand-zested organic limes, lemons, and oranges) backed by the traditional tonic water tang, provided by Peruvian Cinchona bark. Combined with the Lillet Rouge, and a little soda, we end up with a springtime hit that’s both effervescently-packed with flavors. So, I’m not saying get rid of your G-and-Ts, but augment them with some L-and-Ts – you’ll be happier for it!
Lillet Rouge and Tonic
1/2 ounce &Tonic syrup
1-1/2 ounces Lillet Rouge
Chilled club soda (4 or 5 ounces, see Note)
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a brandy snifter or tumbler (I really like my whathaveyou-and-tonic drinks in a snifter, cause it looks cool and maybe helps the scents flow into your nose, but you be you) halfway with ice cubes. Add the syrup and Lillet. Stir briefly.
2. Add the soda, stir to combine, and garnish with the twist.
A Note: The beauty in tonic syrup is you can really control the amount of it and soda to taste and occasion. I might go 3/4 of an ounce instead of a half, and 5 ounces soda? More soda on a hot day is nice! And the flavors still shine. Play around with it all, have fun – that’s what drinking is about!
March 18, 2022
I realize some may be saying “wait, has A.J. lost it, shouldn’t this drink have been made for yesterday, the actual Saint Patrick’s Day?” And while I can’t say I haven’t lost “it” (whatever “it” may be), I can say that I am fully of the opinion that while Saint Patrick’s Day can be a jolly time, and while I’m all for savoring and celebrating Irish culture and history (and other cultures and histories, too, for that matter), I don’t think that it should be regulated to just one day! Especially (for the sake of this particular blog’s focus, but not overall naturally) when it comes to drinks highlighting Irish whiskey or other Irish-made imbibables. Hence, the Mike Collins, the Tom Collins sibling (a once-large family now sadly less-known) that subs in Irish whiskey instead of Old Tom gin. I love ‘em both, but if you’ve yet to be introduced, Mike’s whiskey undertones of vanilla and spice and grain (I’m going with Teeling Small Batch today) and sweet nature go rather nicely with the citrus zing and bubbles here – while also providing a nice kick to the affair. It’s a springtime favorite, but one I’ve found lends itself more to early spring, to sitting outside and sipping on the porch while there’s an echo of chill still in the air (as opposed to running full-on through a late-spring field of flowers). A swell celebration today, as well as yesterday and tomorrow.
2 ounces Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Fill a Collins glass or comparable three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with the lemon slice (stirring briefly if you want Mike mixed more).
March 11, 2022
This is a cozy drink for a chilly March day! It reminds me, too (as I’ve been making it for a bit), of the dark days before Aperol was available in the U.S., and when the now-everywhere (a good thing!) stateside Spritz was just something Italian sipped. Doesn’t seem that long ago to me (I am very old) when I used to have to always bring two bottles of Aperol back in my suitcase when traveling back from lovely Italy, one for personal use and one for a pal. What changes have come since then (now I just have to fill my suitcase with grappa unavailable here)! Back to this here, drink. It mingles in a cuddly manner bountiful brandy with that Aperol I was going on about, with a tiny salute of simple syrup and a fresh orange for a tint of tang. It can be a bit sweet, like you, so if you want to take the simple to even tinier levels or out altogether, it’s okay. Things will still be cuddly.
Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits
1-1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Orange slices, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass and be glad your local liquor store shelves are well-stocked (one hopes, at least).
March 4, 2022
I feel pretty awful that I’m not 100% sure I have actually ever known a Mabel, and so have never actually been up in Mabel’s room, which seems a mysterious, wonderful, alluring place, one where rye flows like water in a waterfall of grapefruit juice and simple syrup, one where the foxtrot trots, and laughter reigns, where no-one frowns and no-one is divisive, and all drink (and eat – cheese, lots, in Mabel’s room, and pastries I’m guessing) and are merry. My kinda place. Now, I just need to know a Mabel.
Up In Mabel’s Room, from Dark Spirits
1-1/2 ounces rye
3/4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 ounces simple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Shake exceptionally well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Be Mabel.
A Note: I know, I know, it’s usually ice cubes and shaking. But cracked ice works here. Go figure!