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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July 22, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Mike Collins

mike-collinsSometimes, it’s good to keep things simple, tall, refreshing, and the lesser-known cousin of a better-known drink. At least that’s what I’m doing today. Because hey, I’m a simple person, at heart. And that’s why I’m keeping this short. No long speeches today, or talks about this booze or that booze, this writer or that writer, this awful person or that awful person that leads me to really desiring a tall, simple, refreshing drink on a Friday. Oh no, none of that. You feel the same way? Mix this up, friend, and think of me, and your favorite Mike. Mine is, um, Mike Caine (if that isn’t too informal). Here’s to you, Mike!

Mike Collins

Ice cubes
2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda
Lemon slice for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and simple syrup. Shake well.

2. Fill a Collins glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with the lemon slice (stirring briefly if you want Mike mixed more).

June 17, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The National Arms

This tequila champion takes its name from a quote from General Ignacio Zaragoza, who commanded the forces at the battle of Puebla (where he, in a massive upset, won the day, and that winning is what is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, but just because that’s a fact, it doesn’t mean that you should only have this drink then. No, no, no! This drink is good anytime. Know that, and you can skip the whole upset thing, and just be happy). It uses the swell Corralejo Tequila Reposado as its base, a tequila crafted out of 100% blue agave, and then said tequila is aged in American oak for at least three months. The end result is a smooth agave-spice-caramel flavor that mingles dreamily with sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and a hint of citrus in this very drink.
National-Arms
The National Arms

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces Corralejo Tequila Reposado
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
Lemon twist

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, vermouth, juice, and bitters. Shake well.

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

February 5, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Boomerang

I was browsing through Crosby Gaige’s Standard Cocktail Guide  (which is a smallish book, much smaller that his Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion, which I love mostest), the 4th printing from 1944, and came across a cocktail called the Boomerang. I’d seen this version before (that’s a name that has probably been used for at 67 different drinks), but it’d been a bit, and fit the What I’m Drinking bill perfectly, because the base is rye, and I had a new rye I wanted to try in a cocktail.

What rye? I can hear you asking, and I’m glad you asked. It was Spirit Works Rye, from Sonoma CA (it came in the mail, I’ll admit). Spirit Works is a “grain-to-glass” distillery, which means that grain is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled, and bottled all on site. That’s neat! The rye is a small-batch number, aged for a minimum of two years in 53-gallon, charred, new American Oak barrels. It’s a rich rye, with nice woodsy-and-baked aromas, and a little spice (nutmeg and hints of clove) on the taste mingling with vanilla and more. Very approachable and mixable.

However! This drink also has a decent helping of Swedish Punsch and Sweet Vermouth. For the latter, I wanted something special, that would deliver its own full range of flavors. Luckily, our pal Michael N had recently given us a bottle of the Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, 150th anniversary edition. Now that’s a gift! It’s based on a blend of Barbera and oak-aged Moscato, with a whole host of secret botanicals. The taste is memorable, with layers of flavors, sweet on the front with just the right amount of bitter on the back end. Delicious on its own, it’s swell in drinks too. And great here with the rye and other players. Crosby would be proud.

boomerang

The Boomerang

Ice cubes
1 ounce Spirit Works rye
3/4 ounce Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
3/4 ounce Kronan Swedish Punsch
1/8 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters

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

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink, then drink again.

November 20, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Snow Leopards at Dawn

Sometimes, you can both help out and enjoy yourself – and this is one of those times! As we’re in the season for giving, I wanted to whip up a drink that in itself helped out a cause I believe is a good one, and Snow Leopards at Dawn is that drink. It starts with Snow Leopard vodka, which is the world’s first vodka made from Spelt grain, a rarer grain, and one grown without pesticides and such. Spelt (plus natural spring water) gives the vodka its taste, too, which is crisp, clear, and slightly nutty. All cool stuff! But even cooler is that 15% of all profits from the vodka are given directly to Snow Leopard conservation projects through the Snow Leopard Trust. That’s awesome! Snow Leopards are endangered, and can use the help. All of which leads to having the below cocktail. Drink up, help out. That’s a pretty darn swell combination.

snow-leopardSnow Leopards at Dawn

Ice cubes
2 ounces Snow Leopard Vodka
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand dry orange curaçao
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, curaçao, bitters, and juice. Shake well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Drink up.

September 25, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Morning Call

I am very sorry, dear readers, for what’s to come in the next few sentences. The kids these days call it “venting,” and I shouldn’t do it here, but we’re all in this together, and trust me, the payoff is good. So, tally ho! To all those who feel that they need to have early morning work meetings where they can be totally self-centered, churlish, idiotic, preening, demanding, aggressive, annoying, smelly, rude, obnoxious, piggish, full of sophomoric one-up-manship, self-absorbed, beastly, un-jovial, un-jolly, un-jiggy-with-it, grabby, grandstanding, stinky, vainglorious, un-fun, stoopid and stupid, pompous, jealous, vindictive, douche-y, territorial at a level way beyond petty, pushy, primpy, powermad, and just plain fatheaded, to all y’all that fit that – please, just let me know far, far, in advance when you’re scheduling your morning meetings, so I can make a Morning Call, or two, and thereby just ignore your sorry ass.

morning-call
The Morning Call, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces absinthe
3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the absinthe, maraschino, and lemon juice. Stir well, and hang up the phone.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass.

PS: Sorry about the rant. But the drink is worth it, one hopes.

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July 31, 2015

What I’m Drinking: The Violet Fizz

You know a drink’s good when it’s in the title of a book. Hah! See, the funny part is, I’m saying that about this particular drink that is in the title of one of my own books (Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, that is), which  probably makes me sound like a bit of a chump. But heck, when you try the bubbly below drink, you’ll forgive me I’ll bet. It’s another one that’s matches summer like a well-matched sock (I really love socks – one more little tidbit about me you were dying to know), as it’s refreshing but not too taxing to make. I suggest it for brunches, where its color and deliciously delicate flavor is sure to be a hit.

violet-fizz

The Violet Fizz

Ice cubes
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce crème de violette
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4  ounce simple syrup
Chilled club soda

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, crème de violette, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake extra well.

2. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mixture into the glass.

3. Fill the glass with chilled club soda, stir well, and drink quickly, before those bubbles have a chance to fade.

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