Way, way, way, way back when (as people old-like-me say), when I first started getting into the cocktailing and the old-cocktail-booking, and cocktail-recipe-experimenting, lots and lots of bottled beauties weren’t easily available, including many now available at the click from phone, computer, TV, glasses (I suppose), all that. Partially, because I am old. But not that old, children. Also, then, because our modern booze availability explosion is just that – modern. New! But oh, so welcome!
Take, for example, Swedish Punsch. Made with a base of sugar-cane and fermented-red-rice based spirit Batavia Arrack (a rum of sorts, and itself not readily available here in the US in most spots until fairly recently), other rums, spices, and more treats (it’s rum based spice liqueur, really), it’s the national drink of Sweden, and a key component of many tiki hits and cocktails. But went through a period where in many spots, spots I inhabited, it wasn’t available. Now, easy to get in most US places. And delicious! Take Kronan Swedish Punsch, which I’m having today in The Astor cocktail. It has a spice (think allspice, clove, dried orange), toffee, molasses, and leather (in the best way!) taste with a hint of smokiness. Delicious, as mentioned! Great on its own, but also, an important component of many cocktails, like this one. It’s so so swell that it’s now available in our modern world, and that so many more once rare cocktail components are, too. Which means, even though there are many days where it doesn’t seem the happiest world, some things are worth smiling about.
March is a celebratory month (as is every month, I would hazard to hypothesize), and celebratory months deserve punches, as you can celebrate by your lonesome, but it’s not really the same as celebrating with a passel of pals or a flock of family. Is it? I don’t feel it is. Those sole celebrators, don’t get up in it. You can have your own stance. Anywho, following along the celebratory-and-punches track, here’s one to consider: Bombay Punch. I have to admit, I’m not sure why it’s called “Bombay,” as it doesn’t contain to my eye any ingredients from the Bombay region – though there are I believe some good brandies made in India, so you could go that route! Brandy being the base here, onto which grape-derived goodness is added nutty maraschino, orange-y Cointreau, apricot-y apricot liqueur, some tangy oj, and some bubbly bubbles. It’s a fruity, bumping, sparkling treat, one ideal for any celebration – though if it is a solo one (as we chatted about above), don’t drink this all at once by yourself.
We, spooky friends, are very very very close to Halloween (a few paltry days)! While it falls on a Monday this year (which nearly seems unfair, though I feel that you can make any day of the week eerily jolly), it doesn’t mean that it’s not your scary duty to unleash a Warlock cocktail and while enjoying the delicious sips, transform into a zombie magician. Which is what everyone wants on Halloween. Spooky good! So whip up this brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters treat, my favoritest Halloween special, utilizing the handy, helpful, horrific video below!
Here in Seattle, WA, our summer so far has been a fairly mild one, with just a few hot days, and no scorchers. But I know in some parts it’s beyond sweltering, and dangerously hot here and there, so I know summer is here and with it the need for fruity, rich, flavorful, bubbly mixes, which leads me to bringing back this fav from a few years ago. Now, don’t take its title too literally, as drinking one of these does not mean you should brave a hot hot hot day without the appropriate sun protection, from lotions to big hats to water to ac. But at least, this combo of deliciously Diplomático rum, summerific Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur, fresh oj (you don’t want scurvy anytime, but especially not when it’s hot), Fee Brothers peachy-keen Peach bitters for another fruit layer, simple syrup to add sweetness to the heat, and club soda to bubbly it up, at least this combo will help the hot days taste better, and balance the blasting heat a tasty bit.
Does it feel like brunch season to you? It does to me! Spring when springing always sings out “brunching time is on” in my old ears for some reason. More sunshine, perhaps, or the blooming of things equates in my brain having pals over for meals that aren’t really breakfast, but aren’t yet lunch either. Bascially: brunch! Great idea, brunch, by the way. Not that I don’t like brunches throughout the year, between us, but brunching in spring is best. Perhaps because you can, after a long winter (for many), have said brunch outdoors again if you want? Perhaps because by spring the days are longer so you can work up more of a brunch appetite (lots of weeding to be done in the morning, too)? Who knows! But in honor of, let’s call it, brunch season – which of course demands more brunch drinks – here’s a new effervescent cocktail for you, the Good Morning Sunshine. I like my brunch drinks bubbly in the main, and a bit fruity, while still having a smooth kick to help ease you into afternoon napping! That little rubric leads to the ingredient list here: two kinds of juice (oj, pj), the citrus-ish lightly sweet beloved of the nation (currently) Aperol, Aperol’s tight pal Prosecco (bringing the bubbles), and then a bit of a brunch surpriser: tequila, which adds the underlying strength while also bringing a hint of smoke and vegetalness. Quite lovely I have to admit. Brunch lovely, even!
Goodbye crappy 2021 (I won’t go into all the reasons my 2021 wasn’t a high-roller, actually, pretty sucky, but let me say I hope dearly that your 2021 was a dreamy dose of dandy-ness), and nearly hello to 2022. Time is crazy friends! 2022, hard to imagine. Let’s give this upcoming year the benefit of the doubt, as it hasn’t even started yet, and say it’s gonna be a hum-dinger in the best ways for all. But, but, but, just in case there’s a day or two in the upcoming year where it isn’t the bestest, and where you feel you just need a break, or to break away from it for a moment, well, I want you to have this drink on hand, as it provides (as the name implies!) a Temporary Getaway, what with its juicy juices, floral notes, apple hints, and bubbles. A getaway-ing combo indeed. As a bonus! If you don’t yet have your drink picked out for this evening (New Year’s Eve and all that dontcha know), this bubble number does it right, right.
4 ounces chilled brut Sekt or other sparkling wine
1. Place 2 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), through a fine strainer if you want to avoid the fruit bits. Garnish with the remaining apple slice, putting a little notch in it if needed for rim balancing.
Can you believe it – it’s nearly Halloween! It’s Halloween weekend, with the day itself just hours away, and all the ghouls, goblins, witches, skellingtons, and whatever the kids are wearing these days, are about to arise (thinking safety-first, of course). And (even more important) the Warlock cocktails are about to flow, as they do this time every year, changing spooky drinkers into happy zombie magicians, thanks to the sorcerous combination of brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. You’ll see the process (and learn how to make the drink if you’ve somehow missed it on past Halloweens) in the video below.
A little lesser-known than some of it’s more famous tropical tiki siblings, the rummy Painkiller is an early-summer, mid-summer, and late-summer treat (though honestly, why not bring summer into any day by having this year round? I can’t conjure up a single reason). I once wrote “old pirates say this was first mixed using Pusser’s rum by Daphne Henderson (owner and bartender) at the six-seat Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay, British Virgin Islands in the 1970s” and still believe that to be the historical case. I used to love the Painkiller at Seattle’s much-missed No Bones Beach Club (you can see me on Seattle’s King 5 talking about it and other Seattle tiki treats if so inspired), and currently love the one at the bubbly Baker’s up this way, but I also like to sail my own ship once in a while, high winds be damned, and you should tack the same direction. Because the Painkiller isn’t tough to make, and will leave you singing sea shanties in a superior manner – which is how every day should end, right? If you’ve never had a Painkiller, it’s a near cousin to the Pina Colada (if only Rupert Holmes would have sung about a Painkiller, we might be having a different conversation), meaning it’s coconutty, creamy, fruity, strong, and lush, with a dark rum base. Historically (see: above) it should be Pusser’s rum, but I am currently, sadly, Pusser’s deficient, and so went with Ron Abuelo 12-year old dark rum and it was yummy. Sometimes to relieve the pain you have to do what you have to do! So, get tropical y’all.
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, juices, and cream of coconut. Shake really well.
2. Fill a highball glass or comparable glass three-quarters up with cracked or crushed ice. If you happen to have a Lewis bag (and I hope you do!), now’s a good time to use it!
3. Strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with fresh nutmeg. You could also garnish with an orange slice and a cherry (both or one or the other, you might see). I wasn’t feeling the fruit salad, so left them off, this time!
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More