January 10, 2020
It’s funny, in a curious way, because it’s January, and January is known as a bit of a cold-hearted month for a number of reasons; one, cause it’s cold! But, the curiously funny thing is, that for the second time in two weeks, I’m having not a winter warmer, but a light, refreshing, mix with ginger beer and ice cubes and sunshine (admittedly, chilly sunshine, but sunshine, pals, is sunshine). This devilish mix, though, is such an old favorite, and (perhaps more important? I’d say most important) my wife’s top drink, or at least top five, that it gets consumed at our house – or at nearby bars – year round. It’s a treat year round, too, as the tequila smoke and warmth play so perfectly with the ginger beer, and then that unexpected in a way, slight sweet fruity boop from the cassis and tangy tang of lime (or lemon, in a pinch, hence the “esque” in this this title, but, you know, needs must), all combining into a, well, treat! No matter what the day of the year.
One note: some folks (many?) shake the tequila, juice, and cassis first. That’s not my style. I’m not saying my style is better, oh no! But I do how I do. You do you. We all can still toast drinks.
The El Diablo-esque
1-1/2 ounces tequila (often, reposado, but I think blanco is nice, too)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3-1/2 ounces ginger beer
1/2 ounce crème de cassis
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a big-ish highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, lemon juice, and ginger beer. Stir thoroughly, but no need to chase the devil in an over-rambunctious manner.
2. Carefully drizzle the cassis over-the-top of the mix (I tend to angle towards the edges, but that’s me, again). If you want, give it a brief stir. Garnish with the lemon. Go January, go!
January 3, 2020
Gin. Geeeeeen. Gin. I remember when I first started making drinks with gorgeous (mostly!) gin, way way way back in the dawn of time, moreorless, a darker age in many drink ways. Back then, we only had a few gin choices, and even less choices in other boozy things. But we’re talking gin here friends, ol’ junipally gin. So, back then, again, I thought of gin in a probably more regimented fashion. But, like many (and many more each day, one hopes), I’ve learned as time has passed, and the imbibing world has changed. Jumping into our time machines (you have one, right?) from those way-back-then days of few gins to today and BOOM, gins-a-popping. All kinds of variations on the gin theme. Which leads to today, where I’m drinking a wonderful gin distilled in Italy, a gin called PiùCinque. Now, I love gin. And I love Italy. But I didn’t know that, as in many spots, Italy’s long and distinguished distilling and delicious-tipple-making scene had embraced gin, too – but it has! PiùCinque utilizes ten specific botanicals to give it a very individual taste, but one that stays true to the gin roots, with a nice even juniper-ness. One that’s partnered with nine intriguing friends (which gets us to ten, see), including I think sage, ginger root, wormwood flowers, angelica, Seville orange (if I’m reading things rightly), almond, the earthy mysterious zedoary, orris root, and lemony, springtime bergamot. That latter really brings this gin into its own, starting the taste off with light citrus notes that then smoothly move into the grounded, herbal, nut, root notes. Definitely worth a solo sipping over a cube or two.
But also, a fine ingredient for cocktails! I was sitting in some unexpectedly warm December sunshine considering gin, all the gins I’ve had, and especially this new-to-me gin, PiùCinque, and decided I wanted a refreshing mix, and something simple (cause I’m sometimes lazy, you know) and decided on an old, old friend, the Dragonfly. This basic mix of gin, ginger beer, and (usually) lime is a dandy manner to take a gin new-to-you out for a walk, so to speak. However! I only had lemons. And I was using this Italian gin for the first time! So, I changed up the name a slight bit, as one does. Anyway! The lemon actually worked a treat with this gin’s lighter, high end citrus notes, and the gin itself brought all those botanicals to the party, and, well, the drink was delicious. End of gin story! Now, I just have to figure out how to fill my suitcase when in Italy with Italian gins, so that the Italian gins can cuddly up on my gin shelf with my other gins! Gin!
1-1/2 ounces PiùCinque gin
Approximately 4 ounces ginger beer (Fever-Tree and its genuine ginger soul worked a treat)
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a highball or other glass (that fits the scene) three-quarters up with ice cubes. Add the gin, gently.
2. Add the ginger beer, and stir in a manner that’s not too wacky, but does combine well. Squeeze the lemon over and drop it in. Drink up, with a nod to Italy (unless you’re in Italy, in which case, just be happy you’re there).
June 21, 2019
Hey sunshine daydreamers! Guess what today is? That’s right beach beauties, it’s the first day of summer, and you know what that means? Smear on the sunscreen and take off your sweaters, slip on your sunglasses and slip into some short shorts (or whatever your hot weather wear of choice), and start enjoying the rising mercury and retreating clouds and cold. All of that, plus make this this drink, which slides you straight into summer, while remembering that winter, like all seasons, isn’t gone for long. How does it do that? Well, the rum is a summer standby, of course, but dark rum can really play year round, and its pal here, Bénédictine, has that rich herbal monastic thing going on that keeps one warm when the temperature is chillier, but also fits into a number of sun-tastic tiki type drinks. See where we’re going? The final player: Crabbies ginger beer, superficially Orange Spiced variety, but if you can’t find it, go with the regular variety. Ginger beer is of course a refreshing refresher, but the orange spice, well, that’s winter time. Really, though, forget my shoehorning – this is a nice one to sip as the seasons change.
The Happy Crab
1-1/2 ounce dark rum
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
5 ounces Crabbies Orange Spiced ginger beer
1. Fill a big highball or comparable glass about halfway full with ice cubes. Add the dark rum and Benedictine. Stir briefly.
2. Add the Crabbies. Stir to combine. Face the sun with a smile.
March 16, 2018
This all-time St. Patrick’s Day dreamweaver is one I suggest to every person I know for celebrating on March 17, cause it’s delicious, sure, and so much better than the array of chemically-green’d beer and such often served on the day. But also cause it was created by Jeremy Sidener, a true gentleman from Kansas, of which there aren’t many – true gentlemen, that is. The Dublin 8’s also fantastically refreshing. So, what are you waiting for? Might as well start celebrating now, right?
The Dublin 8
2 ounces Irish whiskey (I originally used Clontarf 1014 in this, but others would shine as well)
3 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
3 ounces chilled ginger ale or ginger beer
Lime quarter for garnish
Lime slice for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass, or similarly-sized glass, three quarters up with ice cubes. Add the whiskey.
2. Add the orange juice and ginger ale.
3. Squeeze a lime wedge over the glass, and then drop it in. Stir gently. Garnish with the slice of lime.
August 11, 2017
You know what? Having this hot-weather, shipboard, beachy, rummy, ginger-y cool-down-er back in action pretty much everywhere is a swell situation for us all to be within. Going back to the post WWI years, the dark (rum) and stormy (ginger beer) dance-of-deliciousness (yep, I used that phrase) has always delivered in an easy-going manner, so it’s odd that it fell a bit off bar menus and the common tongue (so to speak) for a while. Could be the lack of good ginger beer (now, we have oodles), or the lack of adventuresome natures in some of our ancestors, or a fear of names connected by “and.” Maybe all of the above? All I know is that I don’t care! It’s hot outside, and pouring one of these makes it so much cooler.
The Dark and Stormy
2 ounces dark rum
Chilled ginger beer (lots of options but I think Rachel’s is dandy)
Lime wedge for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the rum.
2. Fill the glass with ginger beer, smoothly and regularly.
3. Squeeze the lime wedge over the drink, and then drop it like it’s hot. Stir, but cautiously – no need to rock the boat too much at this point.
July 1, 2016
This refreshing relative of the Diablo cocktail is sure to become a summertime favorite, whether you’re wearing your 10-gallon hat and chaps (and maybe little else – it is summer after all, and very sweltering) or normal attire. It uses one of the new Stolen Fruit cocktail mixers, which I surely hope are available in your town (if not, complain to the mayor). Not a “cocktail mixer” in the yucky, pre-made un-natural way, but instead, grape-based, and more just a mixer in really-good-thing-you-add-to-booze way. What happens is, they use the fresh-pressed juice from green grapes (which is called verjus, if you’re feeling fancy), combined with other natural flavors, to make mystical (why not?) liquids, which can be added in with spirits and liqueurs and such to make cocktails and highballs and more, oh my, or just added to soda water or other juices to make fine non-boozy beverages.
So, I recently received a few to try out (I know – I’m lucky!), and made this very drink with the Hibiscus Grenache Stolen Fruit mixer, which is not only perhaps the most poetic (the word “hibiscus” is really poetic, me thinks), but which also boasts a berry, zingy, and tiny bit spicy flavor that to me screamed out tequila! Tequila! Tequila! As that’s another summer favorite around these parts, the combo felt right. And you know what? It was! Try the below, and make your summer not only more bubbly, but just plain better.
2 ounces Reposado tequila (I went with Corralejo Reposado, and it was great)
1-1/2 ounces Stolen Fruit Hibiscus Grenache
4 ounces ginger beer (I used Q ginger beer, and it spiced right)
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila and the stolen fruit. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball glass (preferably one shaped like a boot) three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step 1 into the glass.
3. Top with the ginger beer. Stir well. Garnish with that lime.
September 5, 2014
If you’re lucky enough to be sitting outside under some late-summer sun, feeling a wee bit warm, even, and wondering how in the world life could be any finer . . . well, pour yourself one of these and you’ll see how. This is, for sure, in my top ten list of sitting-in-the-sun drinks, one that manages to cool you down without sacrificing any flavor – it has oodles of flavor, actually, an amazing amount thanks to the two ingredients, Italian bitter-kissed sweet vermouth stalwart Punt e’ Mes (from all the way in 1870, for you history buffs), and ginger ale or ginger beer (I used to use the former, but have tried the latter recently with outstanding results). The herbal and spice layers in here are only a wee bit less amazing than the drink’s power to refresh you, when you’re under that sun alluded to earlier.
Punt e’ Mes Highball
1-1/2 ounces Punt e’ Mes
3 ounces ginger ale or ginger beer
1. Fill a smallish highball glass or a big rocks glass three-quarter-ish up with ice cubes. Add the Punt e’ Mes.
2. Top with the ginger ale. Stir. Be happy.