I love the song Mood Indigo, especially when Ella Fitzgerald sings the Duke Ellington tune with Duke playing. It’s moody, though, in melancholy sense, which for me makes it not a perfect brunch accompaniment (brunch being more of a sunshine-y affair). You know what it a good brunch accompaniment? This drink, Mood Lavender, named with a nod to the aforementioned song. And yes, that was the most random connecting of two ideas a drinks blog has ever had, but I couldn’t resist! I also couldn’t resist using the newish Unicorn vodka (a bottle of which recently showed up in the mail – don’t be mad at my luck, friend) to make a drink that had a color in the name.
Why, you might ask? Well, I’m here to tell you why! It’s because Unicorn vodka is infused with butterfly pea flowers, naturally. What does that do? First, it makes the vodka a deep cobalt-y color. Second, it means the vodka changes color when mixed into a drink with certain other ingredients. Like magic! Drink magic. It’s also infused with a touch of tangerine and rose hips (and based on corn if memory serves). None of the botanicals are so prevalent to take it into flavored vodka realm (a realm which can be dangerous), but do add an echo of the botanical to the taste and aroma. It’s a smooth sipper, too, a vodka you wouldn’t be sad to have solo, perhaps with a cube of ice or two.
But how (I can hear you from here), how does the magic work? The bottle itself says on the back that if you add a squeezed lime wedge or some soda it changes to purple, and two lime wedges or more soda changes it to pink, and that is true and a simple way to test your own sorcerous powers. Other ingredients can have the same effect, however, opening up the options. When working up my own Unicorn vodka cocktail idea, I found lemon a nice match (which also adds that acidic citrus umph to assist in the color changing) with the vodka, so started there. More pals to bring to our cocktail party did prove challenging, in a fun way. See, there’s a flavor component, as always, to think about, but here also a color one. I know color and the visuals are important no matter what, but felt here, even moreso. I wanted to keep the vodka’s color front and center, see.
Which led to some testing, but eventually I went with four more ingredients. First, I felt a true (meaning, not with extra sugar and stupid stuff added, just the pure distilled fruit) fruit brandy would be nice. And another Washington distillery, Oomrang, makes a delicious Donut Peach eau de vie, one that has that layered donut (or Saturn) peach flavor and a dry sweetness. It’s a beauty of a brandy, and a gold-medal winner, and went wonderfully. Two base spirits can give a lot of umph, so rounded out the edges with simple syrup. Good, so far, but needed another layer, and decided, rightly, to follow along the peach road, with a good dash of Fee Brothers fragrant Peach Bitters. A pretty yummy drink right there, but as I was serving it at brunch, decided to lighten it up a touch with club soda. I though long about going with brunch favorite Champagne, but felt the drink had enough punch and enough sweetness, so: soda!
And, if I can say so humbly, it’s a joy of a drink, light, layered, nice on the nose and tongue. And so so pretty! The lemon juice and perhaps the soda took Unicorn’s cobalt hue down a few notches on the dark scale (perhaps the brandy and bitters and simple pitched in as well), but as all but the lemon were clear in color, it kept a radiance that I quite liked. You might, too!
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, brandy, lemon juice, bitters, and simple. Shake.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a thin stemmed flute-ish glass, or another glass if you so desire.
3. Top with the soda. Stir briefly, gently. Add an ice cube if you think your soda isn’t chilled enough. Or if you want to. It’s all about the cool, and that means keeping your cool, too. Garnish with a duo of butterfly pea flowers.
Note: I had butterfly pea flowers around (they also came in the mail), and they made such a pretty little garnish I couldn’t resist using them for such. If you don’t have them, don’t fret. You could also go with a lemon twist. It would add a touch more lemon, but that wouldn’t be bad, I don’t think.
We’re in that time straddling summer and fall (though I fully realize fall doesn’t start specifically until the 22nd), which means days that can shade summery but then delve into a crisp fallness pointing to the colder days to come. To make the straddling smooth, it’s preferable that you have a drink that does the same, and if it’s a regal one, too, well, all the better! The Lord Charles fits that bill, with its full-bodied red-wine works-in-winter keep-you-warm Malbec base, mingling with simple syrup, citrus-y lemon juice, smooth dry sherry, and bubbly club soda, that which, with some ice, brings this drink into a level of refreshingness that summer (if you personify) would certainly appreciate. You’ll dig it, and it will dig you (if you think drinks dig people, which maybe they do, why not), and help you do that straddling we talked of. Enjoy!
Just a week ago, I had a drink, The Ciliegia (a sort-of cherry-Negroni-influenced sipper, if you missed it), which featured Oomrang Cherry eau di vie, or fruit brandy, which is delicious, and, today, I’m following it up with another drink featuring another delicious Oomrang fruit brandy, this time their Blueberry Geist – featuring it in this drink, The Blueberry Cobbler. Whew, that was quite a sentence! And the Oomrang brandies are quite good brandies! About this time last year, I was lucky enough to be able to write an article about Oomrang (there are two umlauts by the way, in the name, so imagine them there) for the sparklicious Sip magazine. I don’t think it’s online as it was for subscribers only, perhaps, but research it up, see what you can find. Abbreviated version: Oomrang is a distillery and winery outside of Stanwood WA, and is a remarkable place, where they make lovely wine utilizing lesser-known German grapes: Mueller-Thurgau, Siegerrebe, Kerner, and Sylvaner. They also make fruit brandies – the real stuff, not the sickly sweet things sometimes marketed under that name. They have two kinds, the more traditional eaux de vies (when I say “more traditional” I mean in like Europe, as we aren’t as used to them yet in the U.S. – sadly) and geists. Because I don’t want to rewrite the whole article here, I’ll just quickly say that in eaux de vie the fruit is fermented, distilled, and bottled quickly, whereas with geists first you macerate the fruit in alcohol for a fair amount of time – Oomrang uses an alcohol made from grapes, and macerates a month – then distill and bottle it. Both brandy versions are strong spirits that taste yummy. I find the geists a wee bit more fragrant featuring an orchard-late-in-season vibe and fruit scrumptiousness. Which – we’ve finally gotten around to it – goes swell in this here drink.
A drink which is part of the Cobbler family, a family tracing its liquid lineage back to the early 1800s, when the Sherry Cobbler kicked off and kicked into gear, and then it and the Cobbler famile gained international name recognition when ol’ Chucky Dickens (as I called him, you may be more formal and all him Charles Dickens) included the drink in one of my favs, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, in 1842. At one point, in 1888, bartender and writer Harry Johnson wrote “This drink is without doubt the most popular beverage in this country, with ladies as well as with gentlemen,” and though its popularity waned, the Cobbler is picking back up as more and more discover how swell it is for summer. Which leads us to the blueberry-rific Blueberry Cobbler, featuring Oomrang’s lush Blueberry Geist, a little simple, a little lemon (I feel Cobblers need both sweet and tang), a splash of soda (taking us off perhaps the super traditional Cobbler path, but it needed it, too, to me, especially when the sun’s high in the sky), and lots of crushed ice. It’s a summer hit, even if to get there you’ve now read a small novel.
1. Add the 10 blueberries, lemon juice, and simple to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Add ice cubes to about the halfway full point, then the Blueberry Geist. Shake.
3. Fill a wine glass (or goblet) up with crushed or cracked ice. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the glass. Top with the soda, stir briefly. Add more ice if needed. Garnish with blueberries and mint.
Way, way, way, way back when (as people old-like-me say), when I first started getting into the cocktailing and the old-cocktail-booking, and cocktail-recipe-experimenting, lots and lots of bottled beauties weren’t easily available, including many now available at the click from phone, computer, TV, glasses (I suppose), all that. Partially, because I am old. But not that old, children. Also, then, because our modern booze availability explosion is just that – modern. New! But oh, so welcome!
Take, for example, Swedish Punsch. Made with a base of sugar-cane and fermented-red-rice based spirit Batavia Arrack (a rum of sorts, and itself not readily available here in the US in most spots until fairly recently), other rums, spices, and more treats (it’s rum based spice liqueur, really), it’s the national drink of Sweden, and a key component of many tiki hits and cocktails. But went through a period where in many spots, spots I inhabited, it wasn’t available. Now, easy to get in most US places. And delicious! Take Kronan Swedish Punsch, which I’m having today in The Astor cocktail. It has a spice (think allspice, clove, dried orange), toffee, molasses, and leather (in the best way!) taste with a hint of smokiness. Delicious, as mentioned! Great on its own, but also, an important component of many cocktails, like this one. It’s so so swell that it’s now available in our modern world, and that so many more once rare cocktail components are, too. Which means, even though there are many days where it doesn’t seem the happiest world, some things are worth smiling about.
This is a spring drink to me (taste it, and then you can see if it is for you, too), though it does have a hearty Cognac base, in case the temperature is still getting chilly where you are – it certainly still can on some spring nights over here in the 206. There’s a little extra work involved in this one, too, as this is the extra-work time of year for many, spring that is, as one plants plants so they deliver veg and flowers and such later in summer, but don’t, one hopes, freeze in a late spring cold night (as mentioned above – maybe give them some Cognac if it gets too cold. That’s a joke! Plants like water, not booze.) For this drink, no planting, but you will have to make a raspberry vinegar syrup (check the recipe on that link for this syrup recipe), which isn’t too tough, and which is tasty, in this drink and others, as well as just in soda (that’s a swell springtime drink if you need a night off the hard stuff).
There are holiday traditions, there are wonderful holiday traditions, and then there’s having the legendary Fish House Punch at the end of each year (or the beginning) – that’s a tradition nearly above all others, at least in the U.S., where this venerable punch has been punched up and sipped for hundreds of years, starting way back in the year 1732 (according to yore – I wasn’t actually there, though I am rather old) at Philadelphia’s Schuylkill fishing club, where I am sure (because sometimes the world is actually okay – meaning, I am not really sure, as I wasn’t there, but feel sure anyway, and want it to be true) folks sipped it by the bucketfuls around this time of year, much like I am now in the habit of doing, thanks to pals Eve and Curtis, who are annual Fish-House-Punch makers and distributors, and so I raise a glass in cheers to them, and to those who consumed this mix in the past, and to you, naturally, and to this sentence, which much like this year is now finally ending.
Fish House Punch, Serve 10
Block of ice (or cracked ice)
1 750-milliliter bottle dark rum
15 ounces cognac
7-1/2 ounces peach brandy
7-1/2 ounces freshly-squeezed lemon juice
7-1/2 ounces Simple Syrup
1. Add the ice to a punch bowl (fill about three quarters full if using cracked ice.) Add the rum, cognac, brandy, juice, and syrup. Stir 10 times, while humming holiday tunes.
2. Stir 10 more times. Serve in punch cups or wine glasses or what have you.
I love Chartreuse. Both Green and Yellow. So, so much. Too much? I don’t know that that’s possible, but some might say it. So much, that during last winter when drinking outside at a bar I had a Chartreuse and Hot Chocolate (which is amazing, but that’s not the story), even though I had to spend a full ten minutes bar time explaining about Chartreuse to the friendly server, who then had to convince the bartender what I said I wanted was what I wanted. All worth it, my friends! But now it’s summer, and how to quench that love (as if love could be quenched! But thirst can) of a herbal-packed powerhouse like Chartreuse? Let me suggest this Chartreuse Daisy. It utilizes Yellow Chartreuse (whose recipe of 130 plants is only known only to two monks, who also are the only two who know the secret macerating and aging processes, which is amazing to astronomical levels), but you know what, you could make it with Green, too! And should! It’s a frosty mix, but I don’t find that kills the Chartreuse-y-ness, or the gin-ness (here, I’d like a layered gin such at Caorunn or Monkey 47 to place well), and the citrus and fruit just add summer to the mix, plus more flavor strata naturally. Altogether, this one will cool your afternoon or evening (or morning!), while delivering a whole bunch of goodness to the palate, herbs, fruits, deliciousness. All of which you, Chartreuse lover, deserve.
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 through a fine strainer. Stir briefly. Float the Chartreuse over the ice, and stir again briefly. Garnish with the strawberry and the orange slice.
Note: Feel you need even more Chartreuse in your life? I know the feeling! If so, up to 1-1/2 ounces.
Take a trip with me now, friends, back, back, back in time a few weeks ago when I was talking here on the Spiked Punch (in the Mystery of the Dead Police post) about my love of Pocket Books, both those initial-capped as being from the brand that shares that name, and the general books-sized-to-fit-in-your-pocket that were widely available during the early-and-middle-ish part of last century. More recently than that, I re-read another Pocket Book from way farther back in 1941, one called Mr. Pinkerton Goes to Scotland Yard, by David Frome (there’s at least one more Mr. Pinkerton book, maybe others – if you see it, buy it and send it to me please). In it, there are three murders, a jolly little man named Mr. Pinkerton (not part of the famous detectives, by the by) who somehow gets embroiled in it all, his taciturn bulldoggy pal Inspector Bull, and some Londoning, which I always like. A fun little read! And with some Cocktail Talking too. Longtime (we’re going back farther than the post mentioned, but not so far as 1941) readers will realize I’ve had the below Cocktail Talk on here before, many moon ago – but it’s such a sweet quote, I’m going with it again! I’ll have a few others from the book later, for balance, don’t you worry.
Mr. Paget had brought along with him one of the new-fangled American contraptions for mixing spirits, and he, Linda Darrell, and Hugh Ripley had brought some mint from the garden, sent Gaskins to the fish monger’s for a six pennyworth of ice, and mixed it up with lemon juice. They made what they call a cocktail out of it.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More