November 12, 2019
You know those days when you wake up and think, “you know, I really want to get into an adventure in NYC with a 1950s lawyer who likes his drinks, knows the best bars, also knows the law quite well, is a bit pugnacious while also flirty, and seems to be surrounded by murders,” those kinds of days? You know them? I had one recently, and so of course set myself up with a big dose of books by Hal Masur (aka Harold Q Masur), starring Scott Jordan, the pocket-book-y-est lawyer in the land! I’ve had a fair amount of Hal M. Cocktail Talks, including one from Tall, Dark and Deadly, a sort-of mid-career Jordan rollicker, with a divorce, double talk, drinks, and the tagline “Divorce is messy. Murder is messier.” Indeed! And the below quote, perhaps the only book with the Saratoga cocktail – though a version different then some I’ve seen. Sounds intriguing? Check it out:
String instruments only in the orchestra, no brass, Hazel created a mild stir from the male contingent as we followed the major dee to a corner table. He hovered solicitously, pad ready in his hand.
“Saratoga cocktail,” Hazel told him.
I looked at her curiously. “What’s that?”
“Brandy, bitters, maraschino, and pineapple.”
—Tall, Dark and Deadly, Hal Masur
December 15, 2017
It’s the holiday party season, and you’re probably thinking, “what should I serve as I unwrap presents, or in any way enjoy the holiday season with family and friends?” Well, there are lots and lots of options, and I’m not trying to push you one way or another, but this Bombay Punch is a sure charmer, thanks to a flavorful feast of fine friends brandy, maraschino, Cointreau, apricot liqueur, and seasonal bubbly. With a little fresh orange to keep things healthy – it is the cold and flu season after all – and a lot of cheer. Again, not trying to push you, just giving you friendly options. It being the holiday season, I find it’s finest to be friendly, right?
Bombay Punch, from Dark Spirits
Serves 10 to 12
10 ounces brandy
5 ounces maraschino liqueur
5 ounces Cointreau
5 ounces apricot liqueur
10 ounces freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 750-milliliter bottles brut Champagne or sparkling wine
10 to 12 orange slices
1. Fill a large punch bowl halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, maraschino, Cointreau, apricot liqueur, and orange juice. Using a ladle or large spoon, stir briefly.
2. Slowly (the bubble effect can take out your Bombay if not careful), pour the Champagne into the punch bowl. Again, this time a bit more slowly, stir briefly.
3. Add the orange slices, stir once more, and serve in punch glasses, trying to get an orange slice in each glass.
October 6, 2017
Some old poet said something about good fences and good neighbors – and maybe it was sorta astute in a way. But even moreso is the well-known phrase, “neighbors who bring you booze make the best neighbors.” You remember that one, right? Well, we have some great neighbors – Steve and Diane – who proved that recently by bringing us back a bottle of Crater Lake rye (from the Bend Distillery) after a vacation. Crater Lake being in Bend, OR, and not here in WA. This rye is made from 95% rye grain (and 5% malted barley, if you’re curious) and has a nice spicy peppery-ness and cinnamon, softened a touch by a toffee and honey sweetness and rounded out by a little oak. A neat sipper.
And also (and you know I can’t not try a new bottle in a cocktail), it mixes well with the right neighbors. I decided to go with all Italian neighbors (having lived in Italy, I still feel I have lots of neighbors there), thinking that some of the herbal notes in things like Averna amaro, Punt ‘e Mes sweet vermouth, and maybe even maraschino might work? Could I be right? Would these combined be the finest neighborhood in town – pretty darn close! This meets you smoothly up front, and follows with an assortment of subtle herbal hellos. A good neighbor indeed.
The Good Neighbors
1-1/2 ounces Crater Lake rye
1/4 ounce Averna amaro
1/2 ounce Maraschino
1 ounce Punt e’ Mes
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Give a toast to the good neighbors, and the finger to the bad ones.
July 25, 2014
Recently, I was browsing again through Applegreen’s Bar Book, a book sized to fit in your vest or shirt pocket, by a guy named John Applegreen, printed first in 1899. I’ve gone through it many times before, but like a lot of old bar books, I still love looking it over. And sometimes I find gems I missed or didn’t make before. The McCutcheon Cocktail is one of those very gems.
It’s a gin-based drink, and I decided to go with G’Vine’s Floraison gin, which is a small batch gin made in the Cognac region of France, and crafted from neutral spirits distilled from grapes. The juniper is there, but subtle, and mingling with a strong grape-ness (in a good way) and other floral notes leading into spices (chamomile and ginger and a few more). It’s has enough going on that it can play well with other herbal mixers (though really, try it solo, too), which is why it seemed – and is – an ideal gin for this unburied treasure of a cocktail, a cocktail which also contain both dry and sweet vermouth (I went with Dolin for the dry, and Carpano for the sweet) and a bit of maraschino and orange bitters. I went with Scrappy’s on the bitters, in a local shout out. It’s a beauty of a drink, and here’s a toast for Mr. Applegreen for introducing me to it, at whatever afterlife bar he’s shaking and stirring at.
1-1/2 ounces G’Vine Floraison gin
3/4 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
3/4 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1 dash maraschino liqueur
1 dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything (be careful on your dash of maraschino, you don’t want to go too heavy). Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of the late 1800s, and France.
July 1, 2014
I probably don’t need to reiterate my love for English writer Anthony Trollope, but what the heck – I love me some Trollope. I’ve nearly, nearly, read all of his books (well, I’m still missing a few, but I’ve done a fair job and am hunting out the few that I’m missing), and re-read a ton, too. But somehow, the first time I read Doctor Thorne (one of the Chronicles of Barset), I skipped, or read but then forgot about, the below quote. Which is, admittedly, a quote about a character who has a serious probably with the drink. But still! It mentions some bottles that continue to be favorites today, including one thing that’s being in made in Seattle after a long absence by the Old Ballard Liquor Co. See if you can figure out which one!
His father had killed himself with brandy; the son, more elevated in his tastes, was doing the same thing with curaçao, maraschino, and cherry-bounce.
–Anthony Trollope, Doctor Thorne
October 18, 2013
So, the other night I was reclining in the big comfy chair, trying to decide what to have for my evening libation while paging through a pocket-sized book called The Standard Cocktail Guide: A Manual of Mixed Drinks Written for the American Host by Crosby Gaige, published in 1944. It’s a handy little book, if not as exuberantly fun at Mr. Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion. But well worth picking up if you ever see it. I knew, before deciding on a drink, a couple facts. One: I wanted to make a drink using iced crushed in my new McSology Lewis bag (a dandy Lewis bag made here in Seattle out of 100% cotton canvas, and available for $48 for the professional-sized model and $26 for the home-bartender version, if after reading this you want one). Two: I wanted to make a drink I didn’t know. Three: I wanted to make a drink out of this book. Four: I wanted to use the last bit of mint from the mint plant out back. I ended up with the Santa Cruz Daisy, though admittedly I modified it perhaps nearly out of Daisy-dom, cause I went with a mint instead of fruit topping, and I used crushed and not shaved ice. But it was still massively delicious.
The Santa Cruz Daisy (Sort Of)
2 ounces white rum
1/4 ounce maraschino
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Fresh mint sprigs
Splash of soda water
1. Add the rum, maraschino, simple syrup to a mixing glass and stir well.
2. Crush a bunch of ice in your Lewis bag and revel in the crushing.
3. Fill a goblet or other swell glass with ice, and strain the mix gently over it, topping with more ice as needed.
4. Add a splash of soda and garnish with mint sprigs.
October 15, 2013
A few posts ago, I talked about my recent purchase of The Compleat Imbiber #5, and said there’d be more to come from it – and I didn’t lie, because now here we are and have another delightful Cocktail Talk quote straight from that august compendium. This particular one is from a story called A Party for the Girls, by H.E. Bates, in which a hero is tasked with making a Moselle Cup, but he can’t quite remember how it goes. So, foraging his path via experimentation, he ends up with a drink that ends up being “genius.” Sometimes it takes a little luck . . .
‘You said mint. What about mint now? Shall I go and get it? We’ve got lemon mint, too, I think’
Horace, who was trying hard to remember the exact proportions of the cup’s ingredients, put a dozen cubes of ice in a jug and coloured them with a golden film of brandy. Hesitant about something, he stood biting his lip. Oughtn’t there to be a dash or two of curaçao? Something seemed to tell him so.
‘You haven’t a spot of curaçao, I suppose?’
No, but they had maraschino, Maude said, and she thought also a little Cointreau. By now Horace was mildly confused. He couldn’t remember for the life of him whether it was curaçao, Cointreau, or maraschino that the cup demanded and again he stood biting his lip with that shy perplexity that affected Maude far more sharply than any look of open appeal.
–H.E. Bates, A Party for the Girls, The Compleat Imbiber 5
September 20, 2013
Sometimes, you (or I – though if this doesn’t happen to anyone else I’ll eat my hat) forget about a drink that you actually really like. There are so many drinks out there! Then you come back to it like an old friend after that first sip and think, why did I not drink this for so long? I recently had this moment with the Perseverance, which is a recipe featured in Wine Cocktails. It’s actually a nice end-of-summer-beginning-of-fall drink, so fit my mood as well. Tastiness.
1 ounce vodka (I think Rocket vodka is good)
2 ounces chilled Maryhill Rosé Sangiovese
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka, rosé, maraschino, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain the Perseverance equally into two cocktail glasses.