February 21, 2017

Cocktail Talk: The Third Man

http://www.easyreaders.eu/media/115489/978-87-23-90103-3.jpgI recently re-read (for the, oh, let’s say, fourth time) Graham Greene’s classic short post-WW-II Vienna thriller The Third Man. It was written specifically to be made into the (possibly) more classic movie of the same name, and is entirely worthwhile. And a quick read, too, as it both keeps you on the edge of your reading chair or couch – as you, along with the amazingly-named Rollo Martins, unravel the mystery of Harry Lime – and because as mentioned, it’s short. It also has a couple of neat bar scenes. I especially like the description below.

After he left me, Martins went straight off to drink himself silly. He chose the Oriental to do it in, the dreary smoky little night club that stands behind a sham Eastern façade. The same semi-nude photographs on the stairs, the same half-drunk Americans at the bar, the same bad wine and extraordinary gins – he might have been in any third-rate night haunt in any other shabby capital of a shabby Europe.

– Graham Greene, The Third Man

February 7, 2017

Making Gin at Scratch Distillery

Kim Karrick (left) teaches her “Giniology” class at Scratch Distillery in Edmonds. Botanical distillates allow you to customize your own ginNot so long ago in the past (though, admittedly, not yesterday either), wife Nat and I were lucky enough to go with some pals out to Scratch Distillery in Edmonds, WA to take part in one of their Ginology classes, where you end up with a bottle of your very own gin – one you designed! It’s neat, and even neater was that I got to write an article about Scratch Giniology for the Seattle magazine. You should read it! And then go do the class.

February 3, 2017

What I’m Drinking: The Poor Harriet

I say, go into January with bubbles; go out of January and into February with bubbles. And love, of course. And Parfait Amour (which, you know, gets a bad rap – some of it deserved, as it can be a sickly sweet kind of love at times). But damnit, it’s a worthy love here. Ya’ hear? And this drink (which itself can run sweet for some – but on occasion sweet isn’t bad. The orange juice, if fresh as the driven snow or some such, should help balance. You could also drop the simple altogether, now that I think about it. Again, though, you may want to sweet up. That’s okay, too.), as well as being a good end-of-the-year’s-first-month choice, is also not a bad idea for you and yours to snuggle with on the up-coming Valentine’s Day. It checks the boxes for that: ingredient with “love” in title, sparkling and classy, Peychaud’s for health, and gin to base it all on. See what I mean?

poor-harriet
The Poor Harriet, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Ice cubes
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce Parfait Amour
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Chilled Prosecco

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, Parfait Amour, simple syrup, orange juice, and bitters. Shake well.

2. Strain into a flute glass. Top with chilled Prosecco. Be loved.

January 27, 2017

What I’m Drinking: Tether’s End

Earlier in this blog’s lifetime, I had a Cocktail Talk post quoting (as they do) from the Margery Allingham book Tether’s End, and in said post I mentioned that I thought that title would be a good name for a drink. And I was right! And this is that drink. Not cause this drink is an “end” of anything (though it like all drinks will have an ending sip), but just cause I thought the name was neat. But when making up a drink to match the name, I did want to at least align with the source in a manner or two, so I started with gin, it being an English favorite and all (and I went with Boodles, an English gin, naturally). For the next step, I browsed the liquor-shelves-of-doom, and decided to use (symbolically, and to add a delightful randomness) the very last bottle currently on the very top shelf – the end of one’s tether is often a time when you feel you’re at the very edge of a very high ledge. Lucky (and this was random) that bottle was Amaro di Toscana, an amaro now available over here stateside (when I first had it, years back, in Italy, and when I first brought a bottle back, it wasn’t). To add a final homage into the drink, I wanted something sort-of tethering – by that, meaning, an anchor, as a “tether” can be a cord (or cord-like item) that anchors one to a fixed object. So, as you might guess, I went with homemade grenadine, tethering everything to my own home. Isn’t that lovely? Well, if you don’t agree, you will agree the drink itself is lovely, I’ll bet. Try it, and see.

tethers-end

Tether’s End

Ice cubes
2 ounces Boodles gin
1 ounce Amaro di Toscana
1/2 ounce homemade grenadine

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all three tethers. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink to the last drop.

December 9, 2016

What I’m Drinking: A Dry Negroni from Not My Mother’s Kitchen

Admittedly, I’m usually (as anyone who knows me knows, or, even if you don’t actually know me in an in-person way, if you read this blog you probably know) a staunch soapboxer about drinks-that-borrow-names-from-other-drinks. Meaning, I think a drink name should be as creative as a drink, and that even a small ingredient change needs a new name. So, inis, ritas, olitans, all those, make me sad, as does the recent proliferation of Negroni names. Jaysus, bartenders, be creative!

However, this Dry Negroni is pretty darn swell, and so I can step off my soapbox while I’m sipping. For some reason I’d never even thought to try the subbing of dry for sweet vermouth, cause I am silly. And, I picked up the recipe and idea from rollicking Rob Chirico’s new book, Not My Mother’s Kitchen: Rediscovering Italian-American Cooking Through Stories and Recipes! Rob has a host of good books you should pick up, and his latest is both funny and tasty. It up-ends the hoary tradition of so many cookbooks, where the cook/writer has learned the craft at the side of some family elder, because it turns out Rob’s mother was a terrible cook, and he had to learn in spite of it. It’ll have you laughing and have you making delish dishes all at once, thanks to the combination of funny stories and helpful recipes, the whole of which is written in a wonderful convivial style. There’s even a short chapter on Italian libations, and that’s where I picked up this recipe.

dry-negroni
Dry Negroni, from Not My Mother’s Kitchen

1 ounce gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce Campari
Orange slice, for garnish

1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, dry vermouth, and Campari. Stir well.

2. Fill a cold old-fashioned glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with the orange slice.

November 25, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Gizmo

It’s the day after Thanksgiving – if you don’t think I’m drinking a Gizmo, you’re mad, friend, mad (oh, see past Gizmo posts, if you must):

gizmo-2
The Gizmo, from Jeremy Holt

Ice cubes
2-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce, which I know you have leftovers of right now
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 (if you’re not into the sweets, omit the syrup). Shake exceptionally well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a turkey leg. Or, for vegetarians, a hunk of stuffing on a toothpick.

A Note: Not sure about making homemade cranberry sauce? Try this (also courtesy JH): Add 1 bag cranberries, the juice and zest of 1 orange, and 1 cup sugar to a saucepan. Heat until required sauce texture is reached.

August 19, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Bitter Shake

The name of this drink sounds a bit like a dance move beloved by those who tend to wear mostly black, listen to moody tunes, and shake their fist at all and sundry (I’ll admit to that phase at once point, so I’m not judging here, oh no). But, it’s in reality nearly the opposite, a blended drink that’s really not all that bitter, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who drinks it.

Where, then, does the name come from? Well, the wonderful Fernet-Branca, of course! Here’s the scoop. Not long ago a bottle of that essential elixir showed up in the mail (I know, I couldn’t believe my luck either), with a little bit of a challenge – come up with a blended Fernet-Branca drink. At first, this seemed like a conundrum, due to blended drinks being usually either extra fruity or extra frothy and Fernet-Branca shading heavily towards what some people call “bitter,” though I think that’s just one part of it, with the other being its magic mix of herbs and spices and such. But, you know what? It turns out that with the right aligning of other ingredients, Fernet-Branca plays perfectly in blended form, and provides a nice rich bedrock for an icy, creamy, frothy, summertime treat, one perfect for the hot weather. Those other ingredients here (I’m guessing there are many more possible permutations) include gin (I used Voyager, which is swell), whose juniper hints mingle well, and Bénédictine, whose sweet herbal goodness also mingles well. A little actual cream, a splash of simple syrup (it is a blended drink!), and loads of ice, and we have the Bitter Shake. Which may actually make you want to dance, but with joy, instead of with your head down, mumbling.

bitter-shake
The Bitter Shake, for 2 (never drink a blender drink alone – that’s foolishness)

2 ounces Voyager gin
1 ounce Fernet-Branca
1 ounce Bénédictine
1-1/2 ounces heavy cream
1 ounce simple syrup
Ice cubes (you’ll want a lot, like a whole tray’s worth)

1. Add everything but the ice to a blender. Swirl a little.

2. Add the ice cubes. Blend well (I used a combo of ice crush and smoothie settings on my blender – you want it well combined, smooth, and frothy). Drink and chill out.

August 16, 2016

Cocktail Talk: Milk and Cheese

We don’t have a lot of comic book Cocktail Talks around the Spiked Punch parts, which does, I suppose, make sense, as not too many comics have drinky, cocktaily sections or such. Though, on the flip side, I read a fair amount of comics, so it should balance out, and today it does! With a power-booze-packed panel from Milk and Cheese: Dairy Products Gone Bad. If you haven’t read Milk and Cheese, well, a warning: it is about a carton of milk and a wedge of cheese, who happened to be the badass-est dairy products, and who revel in violence, drinking, ranting, and all that, in a way that’s serves up a dose of hilarity and spite-ful-ness. It’s sorta hard to describe, really! But when they celebrate birthdays, they do it like the below (around messing up people, places, and things):

m-c

–Evan Dorkin, Milk and Cheese

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