November 12, 2021
Sometimes I think to myself, what a wonderful world of drink-making ingredients we’re living within. The change since I came of drinking age (which admittedly was many a moon ago) is remarkable – heck, the change in the last decade, or even five years, is pretty remarkable. How lucky us cocktail lovers are! And there are more delicious delectables in beautiful bottles coming our way all the time. Even luckier! For example, just the other day, a beautiful bottle arrived in the post (luckiest me – don’t be jealous), containing Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus:
A “novel expression” (sidenote: I love the usage of the word “expression” here, and in other spots, to refer to a slightly, not completely, new version of a spirit or liqueur) of the original Drumshanbo Gin, this adds notes of, well, Sardinian citrus, “Sa Pompia” to be exact, one of the rarest fruits in the world, and a fruit sitting between an orange and grapefruit in flavor essence, though part of the lemon family. Not something you’d eat solo, but with a peel that can bring fantastic citrus dreams when used correctly. But, before peeling that any more, let’s back up. If you don’t know, Drumshanbo Gin itself takes its full name from the fact that it’s made in a small village in Ireland, and with a signature ingredient: Gunpowder Tea (which is a green tea rolled into gun-pellet-esque balls). But that’s just the beginning of this gin story! That tea and the Sardinian citrus, grapefruit, and lime are vapor infused into the gin, while a host of botanicals (juniper, as you’d expect, plus angelica and orris root, caraway and coriander seed, cardamom, star anise, and lesser-know flowery herb meadowsweet) are distilled in a medieval copper still. Whew! But what’s it all mean? On the nose, a strong, distinctive citrus medley, orange with underlying grapefruit, with subtle hints of juniper and flowers and springtime. The taste reflects the nose, but flipped a bit, with bountiful botanicals bursting on the tongue, with that green tea flavor coming through, swirled with citrus and then ending herbally. Yummy!
It’s a curious collection of ingredients, all balanced out nice, and one I couldn’t resist trying in a drink, after sipping it solo. And I had the perfect moment, with some pals coming over for lunch. As we’re at the point in the calendar where the holidays are in view, my mind went instantly to a bubbly cocktail (as the past weeks have shown, I am a fan of the holiday/sparkling combo). I played around a little with things, and ended up leaning into the citrus side of the gin, complementing it with a little more orange and a smidge of sweet in the form of Grand Marnier, and then doubling and tripling the herb-and-citrus song by the addition of two fantastic citrusy bitters: Scrappy’s lovely Grapefruit bitters and Orange bitters. I’m not gonna lie: I think with just those ingredients, there’s a pretty swell cocktail. But adding prosecco really drives all the flavors up, up, up with every bubble, into a memorable sparkling mix that’s ideal for the holidays — and for lunch with pals. When drinking, maybe throw out a toast to our modern drinker’s world, too, and how wonderful it is.
The Suspended Palace
1 ounce Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus
1/2 ounce Grand Mariner
1 dash Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters
1 dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
4 to 5 ounces chilled Prosecco
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Drumshanbo gin, Grand Marnier, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a flute or comparable glass. Top with the chilled Prosecco. Stir carefully, to combine.
October 23, 2015
This is a nice fall number, with a bunch of umph and layers upon layers of flavors sure to make the chill recede and the happiness take its place. It has some intriguing players sharing the spotlight, including Woodinville Whiskey’s newly-released straight bourbon whiskey, Salish Sea (a distillery on the edge of Lacey, WA that makes a whole host of really awesome liqueurs) Ginger liqueur, which has a whole lot of wonderful ginger kick and not too much sugary-ness, Alessio Chinato vermouth, made with Cinchona bark and other herbs, and a tiny bit of orange legend Grand Marnier. A combo I’m guessing you’ll love, but hey, there’s only one way to find out for sure.
The Mysterious Conclusion
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Straight bourbon
1/2 ounce Salish Sea Ginger liqueur
1/2 ounce Alessio Chinato vermouth
1/4 ounce Grand Marnier
Ice cube (or Ice cubes)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the bourbon, Ginger liqueur, vermouth, and Grand Marnier. Stir well.
2. Add one big ice cube or a couple fairly-big ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix over the ice.
July 3, 2015
I’ve been lucky in life, in that I’ve had a fairly large share of amari (the Italian digestif of herbally goodness everyone loves now), and been a fan for a while, and have brought a couple neat obscure ones back from Italy. I feel like I’m bragging – please don’t throw a tin can at me! Here’s one thing that will balance it out. I haven’t had a bottle of Amaro Lucano in the house before! Before now, that is (hah)! I’d tasted it before, and liked it, but until a bottle showed up, as they sometimes do, I hadn’t spent any real time with this particular amaro.
If you don’t know, Lucano has been around since 1894, when a well-known cookie baker (really! I love these stories) named Pasquale Vena blended up mysterious herbs and spices and boom, deliciousness. It really kicked up the fame, though, when in 1900 it became the drink of choice to ancient ruling family the House of Savoy, whose crest is on the bottle. Neat, right? The amaro is a tiny smidge to the right on the sweetness scale for amari, with a strong caramel-ness, though containing a rich bitterness as well, and nice floral, citrus, and spice accents.
Anyway, it’s the kind of thing you tend to have after dinner, and not what you think of as a summer treat. Which is why I challenged myself to make a summer drink with it – because I am like that, and because I like bitter sodas, and because what’s the world for if you don’t challenge yourself? All that! So, I paired it up with some usual and some unusual suspects, tried a little of this, and a little of that, and came up with the below. It’s effervescent, it’s got a host of herb and spice and citrus notes, and it’s darn refreshing and flavorful all at once, like a bubbly Tilt-a-While for your tongue. Try it – and then thank the Vena family. And me (well, why not?).
Good Luck In Pisticci
1-1/2 ounces gin (I used Kur gin)
3/4 ounce Amaro Lucano
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
2 dashes Scrappy’s Grapefruit bitters
4 ounces chilled club soda
1. Add the gin, Amaro Lucano, Grand Marnier, and Scrappy’s to a mixing glass. Stir well.
2 Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Pour the mix from step 1 into the glass over the top.
3. Top with soda water. Stir briefly. Garnish with the mint sprig.
PS: Yes, that’s a Don Ho glass! I am very lucky indeed.
January 7, 2011
Not too long ago, I was lucky enough to be able to play around with making drinks that feature Washington State cider-maker Tieton’s ciders. Operating out of the Yakima, WA area, Tieton ciders utilize all-natural ingredients, are made with care, and are starting to be more and more widely available. The ingredients and care are evident when drinking them, too, as they boast clear, crisp taste (which is what you want in your ciders—stay away from those overly sugary messes). At first, I was a little unsure about what I’d mix up with them, but after taking a few sips my unsure-ness re-routed straight into excitement. The following are my two favorite Tieton mixes. So, head down to your store and pick up some Tieton cider (or head down to complain that they don’t yet have them) and then cocktail up.
Harmony in C
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounces Grand Marnier
1 dash Peychauds bitters
2 ounces chilled Tieton Wild Washington apple cider
Apple slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, Grand Marnier, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the Tieton Blend apple cider. Stir briefly and carefully. Garnish with the apple slice.
1 ounce applejack or apple brandy
3/4 ounce Benedictine
2 dashes Fee Brother peach bitters
Chilled Tieton Blend apple cider
Mint sprig, for garnish (optional)
Apple slice, for garnish (optional)
1. Fill an Old Fashioned glass three quarters full with ice cubes. Add the applejack, Benedictine, and bitters. Stir briefly.
2. Fill the glass almost to the rim with Tieton Blend apple cider. Stir again, briefly. Garnish with a mint sprig and an apple slice, if desired.