January 21, 2022
I’ve had a fair amount of lush, creamy, type drinks on the ol’ Spiked Punch lately (with Holly Jolly homemade cream liqueur and the Silk Stocking cocktail a couple of example), and I’ve never been shy about my love of dessert drinks (really, nearly all drinks), so perhaps it’s not a surprise that I’m going to continue this month with another that falls into those categories, this time, a brand-new cocktail called Tre Baci. I hadn’t actually planned on continuing along the sweeter road, but then a bottle of Borgata Chocolate Liqueur showed up, and, well, here we are, sweeter bottoms up!
Borgata Chocolate Liqueur is from Italy (which I love!), but I hadn’t had it until recently, and it is sort-of over-the-top, in a delicious way. Like the best chocolate syrup ever, plus booze (and a boozy chocolate syrup would be the best ever): rich, smooth, ultra-chocolate-y, yummy. Worth trying solo, but it’s almost too much richy goodness alone – well, depends on the person! In cocktails, it’s dreamy. Here, I mixed it with just a few other standouts, starting with tequila. Specifically, Corralejo Reposado tequila, which has a fetching agave-nature and smokiness mingling with vanilla and oak. Tequila’s smokiness is underrated as a chocolate pairing, as this cocktail aptly demonstrates. For the third member of the trio, I went with Grandeza, an orange liqueur made in WA (using agave syrup, btw, which ties nicely into our tequila!), and I’m guessing by now you can imagine the orange mingling with smoke and chocolate; I’m salivating just typing it! A little cinnamon on top and ta-da, there’s a drink ideal for late evening sipping (probably with your favorite someone else, cause sweet drinks are best with a sweetie).
2 ounces Corralejo Reposado tequila
1 ounce Borgata Classic Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 ounce Grandeza orange liqueur
Sprinkle of cinnamon, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add our liquid trio of awesome. Shake well (I know this might not appear a shaking drink at first to some, but the Borgata is so creamy, I feel it needs it).
2. Strain into a cocktail or comparable glass. Sprinkle a touch of cinnamon on top (freshly-grated, if you have it).
July 30, 2021
Poor tangerine, always jealous of it’s more famous citrus siblings, even during summer (which is when tangerines start showing more on shelves, start showing off a bit, and start becoming a part of people’s mind palaces). I like them, even with their jealousies, tangerines, that is. Like many this sunny time of year, I picked up some lately, and have been loving them, and used them in this sunny-time sipper. The slightly sweeter (than oranges, at least) juice makes a swell addition to drinks, especially, perhaps, with rum in summer? Is that recency bias? Perhaps! But in this tangerine-y bubbler, the white rum and juice go particularly well, especially with the addition of two more citrus cousins (we’ll put the jealous aside here), in the form of Scrappy’s lovely (and singular, I think) Lime bitters, which is lime-y and lightly herbal, and another WA-state made product, Grandeza orange liqueur, boasting a rich orange-and-vanilla-ness (you could sub another orange liqueur here, but while it might be good, it might not be great). While tangerine juice has that sweet nature, I felt a touch more was needed, so also added some simple syrup. And then, as the sun is shining and the mercury is risen (I’m typing here in summer, you know), some chilled club soda and ice, and finally, one more addition to give our old jealous tangerine the last word, here, at least: a tangerine twist. A wide one, I suggest.
The Tangerinian Defense
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed tangerine juice
1-1/2 ounces white rum
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 dashes Scrappy’s lime bitters
1/2 ounce Grandeza
5 ounces chilled club soda
Tangerine twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tangerine juice, rum, syrup, bitters, and Grandeza. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass.
2. Add the soda to the glass. Stir carefully, to mix everything nicely together, but no need to get wacky about it. Garnish with the twist.
May 21, 2021
Friends, my friends, make the cocktail bar (and the world) go round. Exhibit A: recently, and good pal of mine had an extra helpful or two of bitter oranges, the big, sometimes gnarly-skinned, oranges that live up the bitter name, and which are used in making a number of things, medicinal to marmalade-y to booze-y. She made it all, and still gave my wife and I some leftover oranges, mostly to make Vin d’Orange (the French-styled wine-based aperitif; we used, as did said pal, the recipe from Bon Appetit, or slight variations thereof). But I had a few of the ol’ bitter oranges left over, and decided I should try to make another sipper with them. Now, here’s where the friend quotient jumps to another level, as another good pal had in the past given me some swell fennel seeds they’d harvested. Sadly, this second friend, passed away recently, far too soon, which makes every sip of the below a tribute, as well as a way to remember. Drinks aren’t always for bubbly laughter, but sometimes for different types of celebration, the celebration of a friend or family-member much-loved, but now gone, in this case. Fennel and orange deliver a wonderful slightly bitter, slightly citrus-y, slightly herbal-y, layered homemade liqueur, which, if you can find the ingredients, is well worth making and drinking while you remember, tell stories, think of friends old and new. You’re a friend, too, after all, too. And don’t forget to hug your friends between sips, as you never know when they’ll be gone.
Fair Nature Bitter Orange and Fennel Liqueur
Peels of four bitter oranges
1/8 cup juice from a bitter orange
1/4 cup fennel seeds, plus 1 tablespoon
2-1/2 cups vodka
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1. Add the orange peel, juice, and 1 tablespoon fennel seeds in a large glass container with a good lid. Muddle all the above well, friendly-like. Add the vodka, stir, put that lid on, and place container in a cool, shady, place. Let sit for two weeks, swirling occasionally.
2. Add the sugar, water, and remaining fennel seeds to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil, stirring regularly, and let simmer for five minutes. Let cool completely, and then add all to the container in Step 1. Stir well. Let sit for two more weeks, swirling.
3. Strain through cheesecloth into a pitcher, and then strain again through another layer into a glass bottle (I like the flip-top types). Serve neat, over ice, or try it out in cocktails.
July 17, 2020
In the middle of summer, the heat is naturally on, but so is the barbecue-ing, the backyard smoking, and, one hopes, the sitting on the porch/picnic table/deck/backyard, consuming the edibles of the labors that have happened over the flames. Yummy, right? But not as yummy without the right drink to have not only with the consuming, but also afterwards, as you and your stomach are mellowing down. There are many worthy options for this summertime moment, but I’d like to throw another in the mix, one called At Once to Ashes, which I created. Really! See, a pal of mine (I am lucky in pals) gifted me some small bottles of smoked simple syrup recently, and while that sounds like she must have used magic to create it, she assures me it was not spells. Now, I don’t know how she (non-magically) made it, but do know it sure is delicious. I can’t ask her if you want? The syrup’s smoky-sweetness is crying out (listen, you’ll hear it) to be had after smoky eating, and also, I believe, crying out to be had with another smoky-ish, earth-y-ish favorite: mezcal. Which is what I’ve done here – I wouldn’t ignore the simple syrup, would I? No! But I wouldn’t stop there, either. I’ve also added Grandeza, a lush orange liqueur made here in WA. Its orange flavor really pops, and it also adds another sidge of sweet, too. You can sub another orange liqueur if you’d like, but Don Ho will not sing of it. But it’ll still taste good! I wanted to balance the sweetness a bit, and also wanted to add a few herbal notes, and a hint of a hot spice kick, so our final ingredients here are Scrappy’s Orange bitters, and Scrappy’s Firewater tincture. If you like heat (habanero heat), then Firewater better be on your radar pals, cause it brings it. End result: At Once to Ashes is smoky-spice-citrus-sweet loveliness in a glass. Enjoy!
At Once to Ashes
2 ounces mezcal
1/2 ounce smoked simple syrup
1/2 ounce Grandeza
Dash Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Dash Scrappy’s Firewater tincture
Big ice cube (or a few good-sized ice cubes)
Cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the liquids. Shake well.
2. Add a big (really big) ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass. Garnish with a cherry. Rainer if you have it!
September 13, 2019
Ah well, all good things must pass – even the sunny days of summertime. The least we could do was have a drink to celebrate, and to do it right, the drink should probably have perhaps my favorite summertime treat in it (there are many! But this is tops), blackberries from the Lazy River Farm. This particular farm is not only home to the best blackberries in the world (big, fat, juicy at a level I’d never had before), but also home to Sidetrack Distillery, one of my all-time favorite distilleries anywhere. You should visit! Here, I use a bunch of blackberries to bring the flavor, then a few other friends to add a little of this (vodka), and that (Narancello, for a bit of orange), and that other (lemon, for the tang). It’s a nice treaty, and a good way to honor – and say so long to – summer.
The End of Summer
2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Narancello orange liqueur
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
Blackberry, for garnish
1. Add the first 6 blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well to just really get the juices flowing.
2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka and lemon juice. Shake well.
3. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the final blackberry.