April 6, 2018
This is based, as you can probably guess from the name, on the classic Scotch cocktail the Blood and Sand. To make it more huggy (not that the original isn’t huggy, mind you), I switched up said Scotch with local (for those of us living in Seattle, WA, that is, though really, hopefully, wherever you are you can track this down, too) Captive Spirits’ Peat Barreled Big Gin (PBBG). Rested or aged or finished as you will in casks that once held also-local Westland’s Peated American single malt whiskey, the PBBG has a swell juniper, orange, smoke, pepper, spice, and northwest-y nature that goes like a cuddly cuddle here. Try it, and then give me a hug if you like it (if you feel that’s too weird, a high-five is good, too). If making in summer, you may want to have it over the rocks instead of up. If it’s real hot, that is.
Hugs and Sand
1-1/2 ounce Captive Spirits’ Peat Barreled Big Gin
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes Italian vermouth
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass.
March 30, 2018
First things first – this here cheek-tinger has a crucial ingredient not always available easily in the US. You can track it down sometimes online. And you can find it simply enough by traveling to the U.K. And really, you need a vacation right? I’m talking about Glayva liqueur, which is made in Leith, Scotland, through a combo of aged Scotch whiskies, citrus fruits, anise, clove, herbs, a whisper of heather honey, and more treats. It’s well worth trying and tracking down. Especially for this charming charmer, which mixes Glayva with old pal gin (a good U.K. gin makes sense, and I like one in a London traditional sense), cranberry, and orange juice, all together into a treat that will make your day, and your favorite favorite’s day, too.
Scottish Blush, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce Glayva
1/2 ounce cranberry juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
Lime wheel, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, Glayva, cranberry juice, and orange juice. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lime wheel.
March 23, 2018
It seems like spring should be in full force now, right? If, wherever you are, it doesn’t feel like spring, then, hey, knock back a couple of these springtime delights, and you’ll feel the presence of spring in your soul, no matter what the temperature and sky shading. Why, you ask? It could be the gin (I like a gin with solid juniper here, but a few orange and floral notes sure won’t hurt either), or the lemon juice or grenadine (use homemade for gosh sakes) with their tangy tangs, or even the fruity garnishing. But I think, even moreso perhaps, it’s the Yellow Chartreuse (you may have guessed I’d say that from the title)! With a recipe of 130 plants (a recipe known only to two monks, who also are the only two who know the secret macerating and aging processes), it’s surprisingly smooth, delicate almost, a little sweet, and with lovely botanical and herb layers. A perfect partner for your springtime sipping.
Chartreuse Daisy, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce grenadine
1 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
Strawberry, for garnish
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, lemon juice, and grenadine. Shake very well, until the shaker gets frosty.
2. Fill a goblet three-quarters up with cracked ice. Strain the mixture over the ice. Stir briefly. Float the Chartreuse over the ice, and stir again briefly. Garnish with the strawberry and the orange slice.
January 26, 2018
Funny, that this drink is mixed, with the title and all! But really, said title is from Pickwick (Pickwick Papers, I mean), and you know it goes so well, in a way, as this drink is very happy – and you will be, too, when drinking it. And by starting the year, more or less, with some happiness (we’re still new to the year, I feel), then you’ll continue along the same lines. Aw, but I’m rambling a little, as I’m prone to do, any time of the year. The real important notes here are Scrappy’s unmissable Black Lemon bitters, named for the spice used in Middle Eastern cooking, two vermouths, dry and the sweeter-and-lighter blanc, and a base of local Kur gin. Drink up – happiness awaits.
A Moment of Unmixed Happiness
1-3/4 ounces Kur gin
3/4 ounces dry vermouth
1/2 ounce Dolin blanc vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the twist.
January 16, 2018
The earlier Cocktail Talks from the Charles Willeford book Pick-Up
(read Pick-Up Part I
, and Pick-Up Part II
if you missed ‘em) alluded to me diving into the Willeford canon lately – deeper, that is, than the Hoke Mosely books I do so love (read all the Willeford Cocktail Talks
to learn more). The dive included the dark, really, lesser-known book Made in Miami
, which is a fast-paced, hotly-focused, a bit (for the times, and maybe even now, in inflection) saucy and tawdry, and finally fairly bleak look into a shady side of Miami. If that sounds intriguing, it’s well worth tracking down. And it has – it’s hot in Miami – some nice cocktail talking.
Maria unzipped her dress at the back and carefully slipped it over her head. She draped it lovingly over the foot of her bed while she looked for a coat hanger in the closet. It was the only really decent dress Maris had brought with her and she took excellent care of it. The silk dress was much too good to wear in a Rotunda Room full of women while she drank Tom Collinses at sixty-five cents apiece, the waiter expecting a dime tip every time he brought another round.
–Charles Willeford, Made in Miami
January 2, 2018
All of you long-time readers of this Spiked Punch know that I am very fond of Florida’s finest crime writer (may he rest in punch-y peace) Charles Willeford
. Especially of the Hoke Mosely books, but recently I also dived back into some others of the Willefordian back catalog. And a fruitful dive it was, full of the Willeford pacing, declarative brilliance, short and concise writing and insights, and a general dark noir-ish quality – though not all fit that definition perfectly. Pick-Up
, a worthy read and then some, for example, is more about art and love in a way, and drinking in a bigger way, and a mood, in a way, and suicide, than the criminal and police-ical. Lots of cocktail talking, as you might expect, in Pick-Up
, including the below allusion to hot gin punch. Good to remember, not only is it the holiday season, but the cold and flu season.
I fished the two one dollar bills out of my watch pocket and smoothed them out flat on the counter.
“I think I’m getting a slight cold, Mrs. Watson,” I said, coughing into my curled fist, “and I thought if I made a little hot gin punch before I went to bed it might cut the phlegm a little bit.”
“Nothing like hot gin for colds.” Mrs. Watson smiled and got out of the chair to cross to the liquor shelves. “What kind?”
“Gilbey’s is fine – I’d like a pint, but I don’t think I have enough here . . .”
–Charles Willeford, Pick-Up
December 12, 2017
I recently re-read The Three Clerks
by the awesome Anthony Trollope – one of his earlier books, and one at the time that he himself called “the best novel I have ever written.” It was his sixth novel, out of a whole lot of novels, and weaves together the story of, as you might expect from the title, three clerks working in government offices in London, with varying degrees of success. Another thing you might expect, after reading that briefest of descriptions, is that these young gentlemen probably enjoy a sip of the tipsy now and again – being young and out on the town. Which is why there are a lot of good cocktail talking in here, enough that I’ve already had one Cocktail Talk quote from The Three Clerks
on the Spiked Punch. But with the re-reading, I realized just how many there are! So, a few more are demanded, I say, in honor of Trollope. Starting with this gem that contains multiple booze-y treats, as an old sailor-y uncle of a few other main characters looks for a drink.
He had dined in town, and by the time that his chamber had been stripped of its appendages, he was nearly ready for bed. Before he did so, he was asked to take a glass of sherry.
‘Ah! sherry,’ said he, taking up the bottle and putting it down again. ‘Sherry, ah! yes; very good wine, I am sure. You haven’t a drop of rum in the house, have you?’
Mrs. Woodward declared with sorrow that she had not.
‘Or Hollands?’ said Uncle Bat. But the ladies of Surbiton Cottage were unsupplied also with Hollands.
‘Gin?’ suggested the captain, almost in despair.
Mrs. Woodward had no gin, but she could send out and get it; and the first evening of Captain Cuttwater’s visit saw Mrs. Woodward’s own parlour-maid standing at the bar of the Green Dragon, while two gills of spirits were being measured out for her.
— Anthony Trollope, The Three Clerks
December 8, 2017
I was in London last summer, and (as you do when in London, or the U.K. in general I suppose) I had a fair amount of gin, in G & Ts mostly, but some other ways, too, and was struck by how many delicious gins there were, a really wide selection in some spots. One of the favorites, and one that I found most everywhere, was Sipsmith — specifically their London Dry gin (they have a few others, too). I’d heard of it on past trips, but was stoked to see it in so many places. Launching in 2009, Sipsmith was London’s first copper distillery since 1820. This gin of theirs is a traditional London Dry, made in amazingly-small batches, and has won a fair amount of awards.
With good reason, too! The gin blends 10 botanicals, and the end result has a balanced dry juniper-ness as you sip, with a little follow-up sweetness, a little lemon, and a little of that lovely orange marmalade you get when traveling your favorite U.K. spots. You can guess that when traveling back to Seattle, even though we have our fair share of great gins, I missed Sipsmith.
But, lucky me, Sipsmith just became available over here – and I ended up with a bottle. I wanted to try it in a cocktail, as well as just swilling it solo, and wanted to keep it classic, but then also wanted to go outside the very norm of the norms. After some old book browsing, I decided to go with the Alaska. While there’s really, from what I know, no specific connection to the state that carries its name, this is a beautifully simple drink that allows the gin to shine, while also bringing another level of herb-and-spice-and-nice-ness, through the drink’s secondary ingredient, Yellow Chartreuse. A short step sweeter and easy-going-er than its Green sibling, the Yellow C plays well with Sipsmith. Depending on what old book you utilize, the Alaska Cocktail also on occasion includes orange bitters, and sometimes a twist of lemon. Here, I went with just the core two ingredients. The orange bitters, well, they’d be a good add, though I don’t think it suffers if you have the right gin. Try it, with Sipsmith, and see what you think.
The Alaska Cocktail
2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry Gin
3/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
1. Fill a mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin and Chartreuse. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink, while looking London-wards.