September 14, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Pup In a Blanket

While we aren’t really into fall (theoretically, the season starts the 22nd), it still feels like we’re oozing into the time of year when bourbon is in the air. Here, in this drink, it’s the sea air, in a way, as the base we’re working with is a new release from Chambers Bay, a distillery here in Washington which ages their whiskey on a floating boathouse (on the Puget Sound, which eventually connects with the sea). The specific whiskey is Chambers Bay’s Straight Bourbon (I received some in the mail, lucky me), Batch #3, which was bottled in late July after being aged in oak barrels a minimum of 3-1/2 years. Due the boathouse movement, however, the aging process actually feels (tastes?) as if it was aged longer. They also make the bourbon with grains (corn, white wheat, barley) from Grant County, WA, and use a wild yeast from local orchards. What’s it all mean beyond the swell local-ness? A bourbon with lots of depth, and a flavor that’ll make you skip with happiness: caramel, and a little fig, nuttiness, oak, and other spices – plus a small hint of salt and sea air.

All of which equals a nice whiskey to sip, but also a nice one to mix with, especially with other spice treats. Here, I started the mingling with an award-winner: Raft Cardamom bitters (which was named 2018 Product of the Year by the Specialty Food Association), a great savory and spice bitters that’s going to add some depth and add to the pack of flavors we’re bringing together. One note: these bitters are also under the Bitter Housewife brand, but don’t get confused, it’s a sibling of Raft. It’s made in Portland, OR, by Genevieve Brazelton, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Portland, Oregon’s Improper Goods, the overall brand Raft and the Bitter Housewife live under, along with a great group of syrups, bitters and cocktail kits made with care. Yummy stuff.

But the bourbon and bitters aren’t’ the only yummy stuffs here. I wanted to keep building on the spice notes, and bring in some complimentary pals, too. Enter, one Italian-influenced local favorite, Sidetrack Distillery’s memorable and delicious green-walnut-based Nocino, and one favorite actually from Italy: the divine Meletti Anisette. These two have been parts of many drinks I’ve made due to their fantastic flavors – as well as being favorites when sipped solo. All together, this is a layered, memorable, fall drink that you’re sure to want to make for all your friends.

pup-in-a-blanket
Pup In A Blanket

Cracked Ice
2 ounces Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon (Batch #3)
3/4 ounces Sidetrack Nocino
1/4 ounce Meletti Anisette
2 dashes Raft Cardamom bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Cuddle with the dog of your choice (without spilling your drink, naturally).

August 7, 2015

What I’m Drinking: An Elusive Memory

Recently, as sometimes happens (don’t be jealous!), a bottle showed up in the mail. This time, it was Boodles gin (thanks Boodles!) and I couldn’t have been happier. I’d had Boodles here and there, but not at home (well, unless I’m remembering poorly and it was long long ago, and I’m not that old, really). Boodles is a very proper British gin – a variety of spirit I’m quiet fond of – made from British wheat, with a number of botanicals and herbs (though, a bit unlike a fair share of modern gins, no citrus). As you might expect, it’s dandy in Martinis and the more traditional gin drinks.

But hey, if you’ve read this blog before (and if you haven’t, where have you been, friend), you know I tend on occasion to want to push the envelope so to speak, see if I can create a drink that isn’t necessarily along the lines you might think, or which uses ingredients that at first glance make one say, “what?” An Elusive Memory, a Boodles-based cocktail I made up recently, sorta falls into that category. But darn, the end result is so dreamy. It’s just that Meletti anisette (the finest anisette, in my opinion) doesn’t necessarily seem like it’d go with Boodles at first, and especially Lillet (another key ingredient). Then I brought the new-ish Whiskey Barrel Aged Peychaud’s bitters in, and . . . not an expected “umm,” but a welcome “ah-ha!” It took a big of finagling, but trust me, folks, this is a tasty, layered, mixture that plays nice.

elusive-memory
An Elusive Memory

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Boodles gin
1/2 ounce Meletti anisette
1/2 ounce Lillet
2 dashes Whiskey Barrel Aged Peychaud’s bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail shaker. Try to remember the time before you’d tasted this fine drink.

A Note: If you can’t find the Whiskey Barrel Aged Peychaud’s, you can use the normal variety. It won’t be quite as elusive, but close.

January 24, 2014

What I’m Drinking: The Esteem

I’m just gonna come out and say it – I hold you in high esteem. First off, because you’re reading this blog (hah! Thanks). Secondly, cause I’m holding out hope that you’ll try this drink, which shares a name with the feeling I have for you. Jeez, is this still making sense? I hope so. Anywho, if you do try this drink, you’ll like it I’ll bet. And then hold me in high esteem as well. Then everything will have completed the boozy circle.

esteem

The Esteem, from Champagne Cocktails

Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Meletti anisette
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Chilled brut Champagne

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, anisette, and lime juice. Shake while smiling.

2. Strain into a two flute glass and fill almost to the rim with chilled Champagne.

June 7, 2013

What I’m Drinking: The West Coast of the Le Marche

My absolutely favorite thing in the world at this moment (well, outside of my dogs) is Meletti Anisette. I wrote about my trip to the Meletti Café (which was lovely), and having some of Meletti Anisette while there, and how great and perfect it was – but on some level, I always wondered if a little of that sentiment was due to being Italy. How to tell? Try some of the same here in the old U.S. So, I picked up a bottle, and you know what? It’s exactly as good here. It’s the tops, it’s the coliseum (as the song goes). Just by itself, with an ice cube or two, it makes me very happy. However, because I’m a tinkerer (not that I drive a wagon around fixing up pots and pans, but that I tinker with liquids), I’ve been wondering if it would also be great with things. And you know what (again, do you know what, or what)? It is! I kept my mixing really, really simple, cause simplicity is awesome and why mess around much, just adding some of the Meletti to another favorite, Woodinville Whiskey Company bourbon, in a classic 5-to-1 combo. Oh my! It’s delicious. I’m calling it (for obvious reasons) The West Coast of the Le Marche. Have one instantly. Or quicker. You can thank me later.

west-coast-le-marche

The West Coast of the Le Marche

Cracked ice

2-1/2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co bourbon

1/2 ounce Meletti Anisette

Ice cubes

1: Filled a cocktails shaker or mixing glass with cracked ice. Add the bourbon and the anisette. Stir well.

2. Fill an old fashioned or comparable glass (preferably a commemorative Nutella jar from Italy) with a couple fat ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Relish the loveliness.

April 19, 2013

What I’m Drinking: Meletti Anisette

I was in Italy recently (and yet still, thanks to the wonders of modern blogging, had posts up. Cause that’s how much I care. A whole lot), which isn’t too much of surprise for those who know me. I used to live there (detailed in detail on the Six Months in Italy blog), and have pals and favorite restaurants to visit when I go, as well as intriguing amaros and liqueurs and wines to track down and artistic sites and vistas to see. All that. This last time, I visited a city in Le Marche called Ascoli Piceno for the first time. It’s an off-the-tourist-track kind of a place by and large, but it has a lovely city center, all made of travertine, and some very lovely churches, and a history of pottery making. All good stuff. But perhaps best of all, it’s where the Meletti company is, a company known for making delicious imbibables. I was introduced to their products by the dashing Spirits Director at Vinum Importing, Andrew Bohrer (who also writes the blog Cask Strength). What I didn’t know, though, until getting to Ascoli Piceno, was how amazing the Meletti Café is.

It sits right on the corner (in the below shot, back right) of the city center I mentioned, which is known as the Piazza del Popolo, and which is one of the prettiest piazza’s I’ve been in:

After visiting it, I think I can say with some authority (considering just how many bars, lounges, watering holes, etc that I’ve been in) that Café Meletti is an awesome bar to spend a few afternoon hours within (in Italy cafés seem like local bars to me, as there is usually as much tipsy drinking as coffee drinking). I’d even go out on a tipsy limb and say one of the world’s best. It has an art deco-y style with remarkable tabletops:

interiors:

and a beautiful bar manned by charming and helpful bartenders:

 I ordered a Meletti Anisette, which is the most well-known of the Meletti offerings, and which is the finest anisette available anywhere. It has a layered anise flavor and an underlying sweetness that tastes pure and natural; it’s a liqueur that’s meant to be savored and not shot back, and one that mixes like a champion dancer into cocktails – but which has to be had solo (or with three very small additions) to be completely understood. I got it over a few ice cubes, and was going to have it just like that, until a gracious older Italian gentleman reached over and added three espresso beans for me. These are the “mosche” or flies, and not only add a faint pleasant zing to the flavor, but also represent health, happiness, and prosperity.

All of which I’m for. I took the Meletti Anisette outside to the tables there, and sipped it while watching the people stroll the piazza. It was an experience I’m darn glad to have had, and one I suggest you try, if you get the chance (and if you can’t get to Ascoli Piceno, then pick up a bottle of Meletti and have it on your back porch).

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