December 4, 2020
This lovely number is an ideal dance partner (or, to put it another way, drink) for the snazzy winter season that is upon us. Pretty, tasty, and pretty tasty, it two-steps gin and Lillet Blanc and then cuts in a small twirl of Angostura and orange. Just a swirling of light herbs and spice and citrus (oh, I’d go with a flavorful gin, here, one with a juniper smooch and not a juniper punch). While this December’s celebrations may not be at the scale as past years, there’s no reason not to enjoy a drink this fine no matter what the celebration entails. You deserve both it and a Great Secret. Really, you do!
Great Secret, as featured in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz but originally, I found it in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s The Official Mixer’s Manual (the Alta 1934 version).
2 ounces gin
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
Dash of Angostura bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
Orange slice, for garnish (optional, used instead of above twist)
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Add the gin, Lillet, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and then drop it in.
November 27, 2020
No matter what the world throws at you, or has thrown, I hope that you’ve still had some sort-of Thanksgiving (if you’re someone who celebrates such holiday), with some scrumptious food, and that you’ve perhaps stuffed yourself some, and have some leftovers, specifically some leftover cranberry sauce (or some brand-new cranberry sauce, if you want to just get fresh for your day-after-Thanksgiving drink), so you can pour yourself the classic day-after-stuffing-and-mashed-potato cocktail: The Gizmo.
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. Shake exceptionally well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink up, Thanksgiving-style.
November 6, 2020
Okay, obvious statement number one: you know what’s awesome? Pals are awesome. Perhaps moreso now than ever (now meaning the moment I’m typing, which is during a very bad year – future reader, I hope whatever time you’re reading this is more conducive to swell-ness), which is a somewhat interesting statement as it can be harder to see (and here I mean see for reals, not through a screen – not that that isn’t real per se, but not as real real, really) to see said pals. Make sense? Clear as brandy? How about, obvious statement number two: awesome pals who make tasty things and then drop them off for you are, well, awesome! Which is what happened for me recently, as pal Rebecca (genius pal, I might say) sent some homemade plum shrub and grenadine our way, and what a pandemic helper they have been! More of the latter later, but today, we’ve delving plum shrub style, as I used it to make a tasty (if I can say so without sounding like a lame-o) sipper which I’m calling Spirit and Substance.
It starts (duh!) with tangy, zingy, fruity plum shrub. I don’t know how it’s made, but can find out if you’re desperate. I matched with with a gin (gin and fruit = yum), specifically Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I adore due to its dry, citrus, fruit (dare I say marmalade), character. But I didn’t stop there! I thought about it (often we just see shrub+base spirit+ soda, but more felt appropriate), tried this and that, and ended up with more fruit in the way of Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. Made outside of Kent, WA on the same farm the blackberries (and other delights) are grown, its rich berry body was the ideal addition. And then, soda, ice, lemon twist, and boom! A drink that’ll bring summer into fall, and pals into your heart, if not your home bar.
Spirit and Substance
1-1/2 ounce Sipsmith London Dry gin
3/4 ounce plum shrub
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Blackberry liqueur
4 ounces chilled club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Add the gin, shrub, and liqueur to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step one into the glass, over the ice.
3. Add the club soda, and stir to combine. Garnish with the twist.
October 16, 2020
You know I like to make drinks, and I know you know, and you know I know you know, ad infinitum. However, I have to say – I also like drinks made for me. This is perhaps obvious for those who followed my past escapades writing about Seattle bars (the finest bars in the cosmos), but here I’m not talking about professional slingers and shakers and strainers making me drinks; instead, I’m talking about home-bartending pals. Now, due to our circumstances (sucky, circumstances, that is, so do your part to help) it’s not as easy as hopping off a whiskey barrel to have fine drinks made by said pals. However (part II), I was just lucky enough to have a nice socially-distanced evening in the lovely back yard of two pals. Julie and Leroy, and during said evening Leroy made me an absolutely tasty Aviation. I hadn’t flown the friendly Aviation skies for far too long, so it was a treat on multiple levels. It’s such a swell cocktail, the gin base botanicals mingling with the lemon tang, maraschino nuttiness, and crème de violette’s bouquet. Pretty, too, though my pic does it no justice. Forgive me, but I was more interested in distanced-chatting that in picture taking! Now, I didn’t watch up close how Leroy made his high-flying Aviation, so for the ol’ Spiked Punch blog, I’m going to use the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. It might not soar to the same heights, but it’ll get you there!
The Aviation (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur
1 teaspoon crème de violette
Maraschino cherry (as long as you can get a good one, from Luxardo for instance), for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette, and shake well.
2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry.
September 15, 2020
Not too long ago (if you consider the amount of time within all of time, for sure) I had a couple Cocktail Talks from a book by Martha Grimes called The Man With a Load of Mischief, a book I liked pretty well. Not sure why (as this often happens) I didn’t search out more books by Martha G at the time, but, well, I didn’t. However, recently (being at home more and thereby reading more) I was scouring the shelves for a book to re-read, and I picked up said Load, and liked it again. It – as it seems all her books starring Scotland Yard’s Richard Jury – is very pub-focused, which I also like (pubs, that is! and pub-focused books), and so decided I’d keep my eyes open for more. And, low and behold, with open eyes I found one, called The Dirty Duck. Now, Grimes in the book-back blurbs gets compared at times to Agatha Christie, and while she isn’t anywhere for me as good as the best Agatha, she may not be as bad as the worst Agatha either (cause when Agatha goes off the mark, it can be far off). With that said, The Dirty Duck isn’t a bad read. It’s a little, oh, lazy at times, and a little dated for being 1984 (though that was, now that I think about it, a ways behind us in time), but it’s also a lot of fun, has some pretty neat twists and a good mystery, and is very readable. Best of all – it takes place in Stratford Upon Avon! At least for the main, and you probably can guess that means lots of Shakespeare, which I’m always for, and also the main pub (the Dirty Duck pub, that is) is one I know, and one that features mightily (under the name The Mucky Mallard) in the tv show Shakespeare and Hathaway, which I am mightily (two “mightily”s!) fond of. If that wasn’t enough to get you going, the Thomas Nashe poem “Litany in a Time of Plague” provided key clues, and is not only a swell poem, but incredibly apt right now with our own plague. And if that wasn’t enough, there are some good drinking quotes in the book, starting with the below.
One of these Americans, Miss Gwendolyn Bracegirdle, who had never had more than an ounce of sweet sherry at a time on the veranda of her huge pink-stuccoed house in Sarasota, Florida, was standing with a friend in a shadowy corner of the terrace getting sloshed.
“Oh honey, not another! This here’s my second – what do they call it?”
“Gin.” Her companion laughed.
“Gin!” She giggled. “I definitely couldn’t.” But she held her glass in a way that said she definitely could.
–Martha Grimes, The Dirty Duck
September 1, 2020
You’ll be forgiven if you dive in here thinking, automatically, that they’ll be a murder and a portly Belgian detective within this here Cocktail Talk, cause m’lady Christie’s book that shares the two words of the title is rather a big deal, but nope! Today, we’re Cocktail Talking with gregarious Graham Greene, which is also rather a big deal of course. But while his Orient Express isn’t the best known, or most highly thought of, book within Greene’s healthy and unmissable canon, it was the first of his (to use his own phrasing) “entertainment” books, and one written specifically with the movies in mind – though it begs, in many ways, for an updated film or tv treatment as there isn’t a good one that I know of. While not the top of the Greene list, the book’s a rollicking read in many ways, dated in some ways here and there, but moving at a fast clip, and with characters you begin to really care about, or, if that’s too fancy, become involved with, their stories, that is, and a few you might be happier to do without. Read it, if you haven’t, to see if you agree. And for now, enjoy the below drunkenness.
‘Oh, for God’s sake, come on, Mabel,’ Janet said.
Miss Warren’s mood changed. She straightened herself and barred the way. ‘You say I’m drunk. I am drunk. But I’m going to be drunker.’
‘Oh, come on.’
‘You are going to have one more drink with me or I shan’t let you on the platform.’
Janet Pardoe gave way. ‘One. Only one, mind.’ She guided Mabel Warren across a vast black shining hall into a room where a few tired men and women were snatching cups of coffee, ‘Another gin,’ said Miss Warren, and Janet ordered it.
–Graham Greene, Orient Express
July 21, 2020
Well, this should surprise no-one who knows me in the littlest, but I’ve been re-reading one of Charles Dickens’ legendary books (that category of “legendary” covers all his books, more-or-less), as I do on regular occasions. This time, The Old Curiosity Shop, and as with every time I re-read Dickens, I found more to love that I had forgotten, re-read passages I remembered and loved, and was reminded of the glorious humorousness of Dick Swiveller, the big horror of Quilp and the lesser (though still a horror) horror of Grandfather, the sturdy Kit and his bouncy pony, the mighty small Marchioness, and of course the sweet sad Little Nell – and about a million more! Not to mention the many Cocktail Talk moments, as Dickens (I hope you know this) loved his pubs, tipples, and consumers of beverages cold and hot. Actually, I’ve had two Cocktail Talk posts from The Old Curiosity Shop already, so be sure to read Part I and Part II to start things off with the right flavor (not to mention, though I will, all the other Charles Dickens Cocktail Talks). And then come back, so you can reach this quote about the above-mentioned Dick Swiveller, one of my (many many) Dickens favs, and about “rosy wine” which sounds a bit like Pink Gin in practice!
“’Fred,’ said Mr. Swiveller, ‘remember the once popular melody of Begone dull care; fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine.’ Mr. Richard Swiveller’s apartments were in the neighbourhood of Drury Lane, and in addition to this convenience of situation had the advantage of being over a tobacconist’s shop, so that he was enabled to procure a refreshing sneeze at any time by merely stepping out upon the staircase, and was saved the trouble and expense of maintaining a snuff-box. It was in these apartments that Mr. Swiveller made use of the expressions above recorded for the consolation and encouragement of his desponding friend; and it may not be uninteresting or improper to remark that even these brief observations partook in a double sense of the figurative and poetical character of Mr. Swiveller’s mind, as the rosy wine was in fact represented by one glass of cold gin-and-water, which was replenished as occasion required from a bottle and jug upon the table, and was passed from one to another, in a scarcity of tumblers which, as Mr. Swiveller’s was a bachelor’s establishment, may be acknowledged without a blush.”
–Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop
March 27, 2020
So, I was not too long ago in the lovely Italy (in perhaps the loveliest part – to me – northern Umbria), and though much madness was happening (I don’t feel the need to delve deep as you know what I’m talking about, and really, you can get all you want on current worldwide issues elsewhere), was loving it until I had to unexpectedly make the decision to leave. The night before said decision was made, though, to accompany me as I caught up on current worldwide issues, I made a drink that was – if I can say so while being still thought of as a little humble – pretty darn swell. And that drink is this drink, if you know what I mean, called L’Altra Sera.
It started with an Italian gin I’ve mentioned here on the Spiked Punch before, PiùCinque, which boasts a unique and smooth flavor coming from ten botanicals: juniper, sage, ginger root, wormwood flowers, angelica, Seville orange, almond, zedoary, orris root, and bergamot. Altogether, it’s a citrus, herbal, treat. Here, I combined it with another absolute treat (just typing the name makes me salivate), Del Professore Classico vermouth. The fine folks at Del Professore make two other delish vermouths, too (Rosso and Vaniglia), and both are dandy, but let’s stick to Classico here. Made on a Muscat wine base, with herbs and magic things from the hills around Turin, Italy (including gentian, mace, vanilla, cloves, lemon, and more), it has a light but aromatic and flavor-packed nature, and is worthy all on its own over ice, with or without a lemon. But it also plays nice with others, and went especially well with the PiùCinque here.
But not so well that I didn’t bring in a third pal to play with, and I went to a different content for it: Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters, made in swell Seattle, WA. If you haven’t had this exceptional elixir, you should, as it’s magically in its own right, earthy, citrus-y, amazing. Get it, get the above, and have this not on a last night, but tonight.
2 ounces PiùCinque gin
1 ounce Del Professore Classico vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, vermouth, and bitters, and stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or comparable, and garnish with that lemon twist. Enjoy the lovely.