August 25, 2017

What I’m Drinking: Summer’s Charm and Courtesy

Just two short weeks ago (which can seem a lifetime during the savorable days of late summer) I had a drink here on the Spike Punch called the SPF – Silver Port Fizz. It featured Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny Porto, in what may have been an odd move for some, port not being a sunshine-y drink companion for many. But this Sandeman Tawny! It’s so fruity, and so full of flavor that it begs (not literally, as wine, spirits, and liqueurs shouldn’t really be talking to you) to be used in summer drinks, fruit being such a key element of the season’s liquid fare.

It’s so worthy that I couldn’t help myself dreaming up other drinks utilizing Sandeman Tawny Porto 10 to be had when the Mercury has risen and ol’ sol is beating down. And that leads us to Summer’s Charm and Courtesy. Less obviously a summer drink then our last refreshing port number, this drink bring out summer through a wave of fruit notes, all subtle separately but coming together in a rapturous (well, drinks can be rapturous, too, right?) layered lush sip after sip. It starts with the Sandeman, which delivers fruit and jam and a hint of nutty and oak, then moves into Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum (a nice note also between all the recent Dickens’ posts), which is a dream, Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao, Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters, and a little lime. Then, as the last act of courtesy (and in my mind, one can’t be too courteous), a little fresh mint.

It’s just so darn fruity! And so darn good! Darn, give this a try before another sunrise and sunset pass along past us. You’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, the sun will be happy, and all will be well.

summers-charm-and-courtesey
Summer’s Charm and Courtesy

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounces Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny Porto
1/2 ounce Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
2 dashes Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish

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

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the mint. Enjoy.

May 6, 2016

What I’m Drinking: A Mint Julep with Four Roses Bourbon

Hey, the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow! I’m guessing you have your hat and outfit picked out, and that you’ve slaved over the list of horses racing in the big race, and are ready to make your pick, place your bets, show off your hat, and eat your Derby pie. But do you have the right Mint Julep makings ready? I sure do, cause that’s what I’ll be having tomorrow. And this year, I’ll be using Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon in it, and feeling pretty awesome about the idea (I did get a bottle in the mail – don’t be jealous). It’s a fine, fine sipping whiskey, with some rich, smooth flavors and aromas: fruits, spices, hints of maple syrup. I nearly feel bad about having it in a drink! Except that it makes such a darn good julep!

Four Roses also has a good story – and every drink is better with a good story. It starts with founder Paul Jones, Jr., who was enthralled by a particularly beautiful Southern girl, and so sent her a proposal of marriage. She replied that if her answer to him was yes, he’d be able to tell because she’d be adorned with a corsage of roses at an upcoming ball. She showed up with a corsage of four red roses, and his love for her was so great, he named his whiskey after those roses. Add telling that story to your Derby traditions!

mintjulep
Mint Julep

1 ounce simple syrup
Fresh mint leaves (4 or 5)
Crushed ice
3 ounces Four Roses single barrel bourbon
Fresh mint sprig for garnish

1. Take one mint leaf and rub it over the inside of a metal julep cup (if you have one) or a highball glass. Be sure the mint touches each inch of the glasses inside. Drop the leaf in the glass when done.

2. Add the remaining mint leaves and the simple syrup to the glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle the leaves and syrup. You want to be strong, but respectful.

3. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice. Add the bourbon. Stir until the glass gets chilly.

4. Fill the glass the rest of the way with crushed ice. Stir once. Garnish with a mint sprig.

A Note: To be traditional, you must crush the ice in a cloth bag. But if this is too much work, just start with crushed or cracked ice.

A Quote: “A Mint Julep is not the process of a formula. It is a ceremony and must be performed by a gentleman possessing a true sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the ingredients, and a proper appreciation of the occasion.” –S.B. Buckner, Jr. in a letter to General Connor, 1937.

May 22, 2015

What I’m Drinking: Iollas’ Itch

If you aren’t up on your ancient Greek history (shame on you – or, on us, as my memory keeps getting worse, too, making my ancient Greek, not to mention last week, a little hazy at times), Iollas was the son of a Macedonian general, and a royal youth at the court of Alexander the Great. Heavy. The story goes, when Mr. Great (as he was called) was murdered, many wanted to ascribe it to poisoning, and writers (as they’ll do) laid that serious poisoner-of-Alexander tag on Iollas, who carried the royal sipping cup during the emperor’s last sickness. How does that all tie into this drink, which isn’t poison at all, but a nectar of deliciousness? Well, for one, it utilizes mint, which was a favorite of the Greeks (still is, I suppose), and used to help folks transition into the afterlife. So, that’s a tie in. But also, I tend to think (as many do, nowadays) that Iollas wasn’t actually a poisoner, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which means he deserves a strong drink in his honor, and this beauty is that drink.

iollas-itch

Iollas’ Itch, from Dark Spirits

3 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 fresh mint sprig for garnish
Ice cubes
2 ounces rye
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce apricot liqueur

1. Rub (carefully but firmly) the 3 mint leaves all around the inside of a cocktail glass. Then discard them.

2. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rye, apricot liqueur, and vermouth. Shake well.

3. Strain into the minty glass from above. Garnish with the mint sprig.

May 31, 2013

What I’m Drinking: Summerjulashation

This is sort-of like a Julep in some ways, and like a Smash, and probably identically close to another classic recipes that use a booze, sweetening, crushed ice, and mint that I’m forgetting at this moment. None of that bothers me (does it bother you? Perhaps you’re at the wrong blog?), as the end result no matter what is a super refreshing, slightly spirituous, a wee bit sweet, flavorful icy drink that will make your summer parties sing. It can take some arm power to bust up ice into crushed ice, but you know what? I think you’re tough enough. And as mentioned, the end result is, well, smashing.

Summerjulashation

Summerjulashation

15 mint leaves, plus a couple mint sprigs

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces gin (I used Bluewater Halcyon organic gin, and it was perfect)

1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao

Cracked/crushed ice

1. Add the mint leaves and the simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.

2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and the curaçao to the shaker. Shake well.

3. Fill a goblet or other snazzy glass with the cracked or crushed ice (this is a summer frothy delight, so pack that ice in there).

4. Strain the goods over the ice. Garnish with some mint sprigs. Put your feet up. Drink up.

PS: If you don’t think “Summerjulashation” is the best name for a summer drink ever, well, you suck.

October 12, 2009

Me & Mint

“Me & Mint” sorta sounds like a kids book, where you learn about life in a very colorful manner. Mint in that book is either an older relative or a sick friend, or maybe a dog that’s not friendly at first, or a monkey that eats your baseball cards. In a very other sense, it’s one of my favorite herbs, and one that (luckily) is usually available, and so, so delectable in drinks. It’s also profiled in this week’s iSpice column on the Washington Post site, following either the first link in this sentence or this link. In that column, I rhapsodize a bit about mint, along with some others, and also talk about how to use it in drinks (and no, I’m not going to tell you here what I said there–that’s not what the interweb is about, people). They also have my recipe for the Iollas’ Itch in the column, which is from my new book Dark Spirits, a book I’m gonna write more about soon. Here’s the recipe (though this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t click to the column, just that you should have a drink while reading it).

 

3 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 fresh mint sprig for garnish

Ice cubes

2 ounces rye

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce apricot liqueur

1. Rub (carefully but firmly) the 3 mint leaves all around the inside of a cocktail glass. Then discard them.

2. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rye, apricot liqueur, and vermouth. Shake well.

3. Strain into the minty glass from above. Garnish with the mint sprig.

PS: Happy Friday to you, too.

 

 

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