June 8, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Mint Meridian

Recently, I was on a trip – the actual physical kind, mind you – that took me away from my home bar and home region, and led me, let’s just say, to a different state, and while there I was really craving Brancamenta, and couldn’t find any anywhere. Anywhere! What kind of place or region or locale or spot doesn’t have this Fernet Branca sibling, which adds Piedmontese peppermint oil and a little sweetness to the legendary bitter-and-herb digestif?

Well, I was missing the minty mint-ness indeed by the time I got back, especially as we’re heading into summer and Brancamenta is a summertime hit of special proportions, especially with soda, and even moreso when mingled with dark rum (another summer fav) and a few other choice choices in the below drink. Try it and see! And if you have to travel anywhere that might not have Brancamenta, even just maybe might not have it, take your bottle with you. You don’t want to run into the situation I did, believe me you.

mint-meridian
The Mint Meridian

Ice cubes
2 ounces dark rum
3/4 ounces Brancamenta
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Chilled club soda
Mint sprig, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway up with ice cubes. Add the rum, Brancamenta, lemon juice, and bitters. Shake well.

2. Fill a highball or closely comparable glass up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass through a fine strainer.

3. Top with 3 ounces club soda. Stir. Garnish with the mint spring. Enjoy your afternoon.

April 20, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Flowering Grape

Ah, springtime. It’s when the flowers are blooming, everything is starting to wake up (in a way), the heavy coats are dropped to the ground to be replaced by lighter coats, or hoodies, even, and the drinks are flowing like the pollen which, really, I’d rather avoid if possible. It’s also the season (why not?) for remembering past loves, from years gone by, and picturing those idyllic springtime moments with said past loves, when you walked through fields of flowers, hand-in-hand, never knowing that one would someday be forgotten. Here, of course, the past love I’ve talking about is this delicious drink, which if I remember right once won me a mixing glass in some contest or other. Happily, unlike some past love, this one is easy – and smart – to rekindle. It is springtime, after all.

flowering-grape
The Flowering Grape

Ice cubes
2 ounces Pierre Ferrand Cognac
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce raspberry vinegar syrup (I detail how to make raspberry vinegar syrup here)

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Laugh heartily.

March 23, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Chartreuse Daisy

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
Chartreuse Daisy, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Cracked ice
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 12, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Sidecar with Hine Bonneuil 2005 Cognac

Earlier in this wonderful month (just a week ago! If you’ve forgotten), I featured a drink here on the Spiked Punch, In The Treetops with Delamain L’Aigle XO Cognac. If you missed it, go check it out, or be sad – you don’t want to be sad, right? There, I talked about Cognac-as-cocktail-ingredient, and then, when thinking it over, decided I should back up the talk with a few more cocktails boasting Cognac as a base, and decided also to go next with one of the definitive Cognac cocktails, the classic Sidecar. Created overseas during Prohibition, the Sidecar was either first crafted at a bar in Paris or by an army colonel who drove around with a sidecar often. Or someone else entirely!

There are two Sidecar schools, but I lean towards the one that leans heavier on the Cognac and is less sweet. This road works even better when you’re able to use Hine Bonneuil 2005 Grande Champagne Cognac (a bottle of which I received in the mail recently, bless my lucky stars). Made from Ugni Blanc grapes only grown on the Hine vineyards, this limited-edition (track it down, if you can) Cognac has a great fresh grape, fig, orange, and herb nose, with more fig, and then apple, spice, honey and oak on the tongue, with an echo of pineapple and citrus. Scrummy stuff.

And, a perfect Cognac for the Sidecar, able to stand up to the lemon and mingle mightily with the requisite orange liqueur – here, I used a new one, made in my own Seattle, by Bernie Garcia, the owner of Moctezuma’s restaurant (it actually launches next week, but I figure you can wait a few days). It’s called Grandeza, and it uses bitter orange peels, agave nectar, and a bit of vanilla in a memorable manner. All together, this trio combines into a cocktail that you won’t forget, one that begins with bright citrus and spice, buoyed by fruit, herbal, and more. Oh, I know that many (maybe even myself in the past), have said that using a really fine Cognac like Hine Bonneuil 2005, in cocktails, even classics like the Sidecar, is foolish. However! I think once in a while, high-rolling your cocktails at home to lift them into legendary status is a good idea. You only live once, after all.

Sidecar
The Sidecar

Cracked ice
2 ounces Hine Bonneuil 2005 Grande Champagne Cognac
1/2 ounce Grandeza orange liqueur
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full of cracked ice. Add everything. Shake gently.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Don’t ride a motorcycle while drinking, but do sit in a sidecar attached to a parked motorcycle, if you want.

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August 4, 2017

What I’m Drinking: The SPF (or, Silver Port Fizz)

Suns out! You know what that means? Sunburns. Okay, it means other things, too, like summer drinks and summer fun and summer romance and summer reading-in-the-back-yard-with-one-of-those-drinks. But I do pick up sunburns pretty quickly, which is why I always have sunscreen with a good SPF (sun protection factor). And also why I always have a nice chill SPF, too. For the latter, I mean a Silver Port Fizz.

Jump back! I can hear you saying (you do say that, right?), and loudly, what do you mean drinking port in summer? Isn’t port a winter, or fall at least, drink that you have indoors after a meal, say, or with some tasty cheese? Sure, it is that, but now-a-days, port is actually showing up on a lot of summer sipping menus, too. It makes sense (I think, when you think about it), because port in its various forms does deliver a lot of flavor, and doesn’t weigh one down too heavily, so when mingled with the right ingredients, I believe it’s a natural for the days when the sun is high in the sky and the temperature is also rising. Lucky for me, a bottle of Sandeman Tawny Porto 10-year-old version, showed up in the mail the other day, so I could test the port theory I’m expounding.

And while making up a new summer-y drink with port being a main player is very, very attractive (I’ll probably do it soon!), I decided to start by putting port in as a player in a classically-minded mix, the fizz. I love a nice, simple fizz, and the frothier silver fizzes (though sometimes today you see the silver slipped out of the monikers, which is okay, but here it fit perfectly), which adds egg white. And that’s what I did here, and the result is ideal for August, refreshing, fun, and full of the Sandeman Tawny’s nutty, fruit, rich-bodied brilliance. Try it, and test the theory.

spf
The SPF

Cracked ice
2 ounces 10-year-old Sandeman Tawny Porto
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 egg white

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Porto, juice, sugar and egg white.

2. Fill a Collins or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix into the glass.

3. Fill glass with club soda. Stir briefly. Chill out.

July 21, 2017

What I’m Drinking: The Temporary Getaway

Not able to take a vacation this summer? Trapped at a desk while the noises from frolicking day-off-ers echo in your ears? Wishing for an escape, but the many mundane priorities stand like an annoying boss in the way? Well, here’s a thought – have the below bubbler and take a mini trip without leaving the house.

temporary-getaway-2
The Temporary Getaway, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

3 apple slices
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Ice cubes
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
4 ounces chilled brut Sekt or other sparkling wine

1. Place two of the apple slices, the orange juice, and the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.

2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the St-Germain and, using a long spoon, stir well.

3. Pour the chilled Sekt into the cocktail shaker. Using that same reliable spoon, stir briefly, being sure to bring up the fruit on the bottom when stirring.

4. Strain into a flute glass or cocktail glass (in this instance I like the way the latter breathes, but a flute’s more traditional). Garnish with the remaining apple slice, putting a little notch in it if needed for rim balancing.

April 14, 2017

What I’m Drinking: A Picturesque Procession with Purus Vodka

Vodka has gone from over-rated to under-rated. Due to an over-abundance of flavorless vodkas enjoyed more for their lack of character than taste, and then an over-abundance of drinks made with them during the dark days (like, the 80s and 90s) of drinking, vodka got a bad – if, perhaps, deserved – rap. But here’s the thing: there are plenty of good vodkas today, which bring flavor and personality to the party. I didn’t know, however, that one was made in Italy!

Until recently, that is, when I received a bottle of Purus organic vodka in the mail (I know, I know, lucky me). Made from Italian grain and water from the Italian Alps, up in northern Italy’s Piedmont region, it felt on first glance – no, on first hearing about it – that the vodka was made for me. Though admittedly I used to live in Central Italy, but hey, it’s ITALY! And it’s made by the Sacchetto family. Who I don’t know, but c’mon, they sound awesome – and they placed their vodka, certified GMP free and organic by the USDA,  in a curvingly artistic bottle that’s lovely and recyclable, as is the bottle top.

So, with all that I say they’re an awesome family. Well, that and from this vodka, which not only sounds good, but is good. It’s clean and bright, with a lush slightly sweet essence mingled with notes of peach and plum and good grain and the Italian springtime. It’s that kind of tipple. If you don’t believe me, it’s won a bunch of awards, too, picked by famous people. It’s dandy solo, over an ice cube or two. I liked a twist of lemon with it, too, as it balances a bit. It’s also a willing and able contributor to cocktails, including this one, where I bring two other Italian favs, Strega and Aperol, into the mix, and a little lemon. I’ll probably have another drink up here with it before long, as well, so don’t be a stranger.

a-pictauresque-procession
A Picturesque Procession

Ice cubes
2 ounces Purus Organic Italian vodka
3/4 ounces Strega
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the twist. Shake well in an Italian manner.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist. And a toast.

January 13, 2017

What I’m Drinking: The Mickie Walker with Benachie Scotch

Here’s a super cool knowledge nugget I would like to drop on you. There’s a company that’s dedicated to producing Scotches that are modern interpretations of long-lost whisky. They are reincarnating, as they coin the phrase, in a delicious manner, these Scotches. See, many distilleries had to close during the century previous to this one, due to things like prohibition, globalization, and other economic issues, and the founders of The Lost Distillery company decided that it would be tragic (and I agree!) for the whisky those distilleries were making to be lost forever. Now, they’re re-making the whisky, using blends, with a range that travels all five Scottish whisky regions. That’s super cool, right!

I recently was able to taste their Benachie Scotch, which is called Jericho in other spots in the world, and which is based on whiskey made from the distillery of the same name, a Highland distillery that ran from 1824-1913 near the town of Insch (go read the full story). It’s a friendly dram, with an approachable malty, peaty nose that has a hint of sweetness, and a flavor that’s oaky and nutty, with some fruit accents and accommodating pepper and spice. A fine Scotch to bring back to life! And one I couldn’t resist using in a lesser-known number from days of yore called the Mickie Walker.

mickie-walkerThe Mickie Walker

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces The Lost Distillery Benachie Scotch
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/8 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 ounce homemade grenadine

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Don’t get lost while drinking.

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