September 24, 2021
It is (please don’t shun me), pretty rare that I get itching for a drink (well, that’s not rare, this next bit) and decide what I really want is to pour ingredients over the back of a spoon slowly, one at a time, so they make pretty layers, Pousse-Café style. Not that I don’t believe there are many drinks made like such that are wonders, because there are and I do, with each layer’s spirit or liqueur delicately (usually) unveiling itself, mingling slightly with the former or next layer, a little more, then a little less. It’s a memorable experience, but one that sadly I’m just not that awesome at making. I probably need to make more! But because of such, the rarity mentioned above is the norm on most days. But not today! Today, I woke up dreaming about an Eve’s Garden, and spoon-back-pouring skills or not, that’s what I’m having.
This particular pousse-styler comes from one of the legends in the bar firmament: Charles H. Baker, Jr., who wrote two classics: An Exotic Drink Book and An Exotic Cookery Book—first released by Crown in 1939 as A Gentleman’s Companion. In the drink book, there’s a section called “Ten More which Are Not Called Angels,” right after a section called “First a Brief Company of Six Angels,” which is where you’ll find our Eve, and of the drink he says “This sort of thing only goes to show what grown men will do to keep from devoting their time to something constructive in life.” It takes, friends, a steady hand. But in the end, is worth it, as the ingredients do their mingling on the tongue when sipped slow. One of the ingredients, by the way, is Crème Yvette, which for years wasn’t around. It is around more, now, but if you absolutely can’t find it, you could go crème di violette. Baker won’t mind, much.
1 ounce Damiana
1 ounce Crème Yvette
1 ounce Cognac
1/4 ounce heavy cream
1 sour cherry, for garnish
1. Add the Damiana to a cordial or other similar attractive glass. Slowly top it with the Crème Yvette, pouring over the back of a spoon if needed—you don’t want them to mix, because layering as much as possible is desired as alluded to above a bunch.
2. Pour the Cognac on top of the crème Yvette, again pouring over a spoon if needed so that they don’t mix.
3. Slowly spoon the cream on top of the cognac, and gently place the cherry on top of the cream.
A Note: In Mr. Baker’s book, this is garnished with a green cherry, but I like the sour cherry (and am a bit wary of the green cherry). But if you want to substitute the green for authenticity, I won’t stop you.
October 11, 2019
I recently wrote about a drink called The Mighty M, which featured a trio of Washington-made treats, one of which was Salish Sea’s Maple liqueur. Which is delicious, and perhaps the only maple liqueur? The only one I’ve had at least! It’s just very lush, rich, maple-y, nutty-ish, and delish. I was trying to think of more things to do with it, and had one of those booze-y light bulb moments – why not try subbing it in for the crème de cacao in a classic Alexander? Boom! Light bulb boom! So, I brought in another Washington pal (Seattle Distilling Company’s gin, which is an ideal gin, made with eleven botanicals, and a swell and welcoming juniper, spice, nut, thing happening), and the cream, and it all turned into a dessert-y dream. A dream I tell you!
1-1/2 ounces Seattle Distilling Company gin
1-1/2 ounces Salish Sea Maple liqueur
1-1/2 ounces heavy cream
Sprinkle of chocolate powder
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, liqueur, and cream. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Sprinkle with a light dust of chocolate.
May 26, 2017
As all know, I am fond of many local WA-state distillers, and one of my very favorites (you probably know this too, having been reading this blog for years and years, correct?) is a distillery on a farm – farm and distillery all the same fine folks – in a valley outside of Kent, WA, a distillery called Sidetrack. Not only do they deliver fine products using produce grown on their farm, but they also have a beautiful event space in a refurbished old barn. Super swell stuff. While they get a lot of deserved plaudits for their liqueurs (from fruit to walnut-based Nocino to more exotic fare like my favorite Lemon Verbena), they also make clear, European-style, fruit brandies. Delicious, strong, and hopefully liquids more Americans will start sipping. I think my favorite Sidetrack brandy – though I like them all – is Strawberry. It’s like the essence of strawberry, the Platonic ideal, while being robust and umph-y. It is a spirit, after all. I like it so much that I wanted to create a drink with it, but it was tough (as it can be with many fruit brandies) at first, due to user error. Hahaha. But I kept at it, and eventually went with a favorite dessert inspiration, the king of dessert drinks, the Alexander. Then, after a bunch of tweaks, the below emerged, and is lush, layered, and if I can say while being humble, pretty darn wonderful. Good after dinner both because of its hints of dessert and because of its strong backbone.
1-1/2 ounces Sidetrack Strawberry brandy
1 ounce Depth crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake really well. Really well!
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of orchards.
A Note: An actual strawberry would make a fine garnish here, but sadly I was strawberry deficient.
August 19, 2016
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.
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.
February 12, 2016
Hey, young lovers! Do you have your Valentine’s Day drink ready yet? If not, well, did you know you only have two more days to figure it out? Don’t fret though (you’ll get wrinkles). I have you covered, with the Lover’s Moon. It’s smooth, but has a little umph (like all us romantics), and lots of flavor. A swell choice! Trust me.
The Lover’s Moon, from Dark Spirits, Serves 2
3-1/2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces Kahana Royale Macadamia Nut Liqueur
2 ounces heavy cream
2 maraschino cherries for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, macadamia liqueur, and cream. Shake well.
2. Add a cherry to each of two cocktail glasses. Strain the mix into the glasses, making sure each gets its full share. Sure, the cherries will vanish for a minute, but like the moon, they’ll reappear.
A Note: Can’t find the luscious Kahana Royale Macadamia Nut Liqueur? You could try this with another nut-based liqueur. Nocino (the Italian green walnut liqueur) would be interesting. It’d be less sweet, but still . . . intriguing. Try it, and let me know!
May 9, 2014
If you are someone who is adventuresome, who isn’t afraid of, say, wearing a velvet jacket, or making out with someone in an elevator, or drinking a drink that would cause most people to say “jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, what is that,” then you are probably up for trying this drink. The name dates back to a poem by Thomas Moore, first published in 1817. The poem is about the daughter of a Mughal emperor (her name is Lalla Rookh) who’s engaged to some prince, but who meets a poet who sweeps her off her feet with poems and poetic-ness (those poets are so tricky, especially this one, as he turns out to be—spoiler alert—the prince). The drink is old, too, but maybe not that old? I’m not 100% sure. Famous cranky drink writer David Embury said of this drink, in 1948, “This relic of the Gay Nineties is a syrupy-sweet and wholly deceptive concoction.” Which means it can deliver a wallop under all the coo-ing it does.
The Lalla Rookh (from Dark Spirits)
1 ounce Cognac
1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce vanilla liqueur
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce heavy cream
Chilled club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cognac, rum, vanilla liqueur, simple syrup, and cream. Shake poetically (which here means shake a lot, rhythmically).
2. Fill a highball glass halfway full with ice cubes. Strain the mix into the glass. Top with club soda and stir well (again, poetically).