June 12, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Shango

Having a good drink on your birthday is (if you’re a drinker, and of legal age in the country you choose to live within) a treat, and should be something everyone gets to enjoy. With that in mind, I made up the below drink for an old pal of mine (I’ll bet you can’t guess his name) for a recent birthday, bottled up a few, and gave them to him in the appropriate manner for the times. But, because he is a such a rad dude, I didn’t feel I could just come up with any ol’ drink, but wanted it to have a little bit of a backstory. That might be, you’d think, difficult, but said fella has been a traveling man here and there in his time here, and so the lightbulb moment was “hey, how about using some ingredients from where he went in his life” or where he did “go” so to speak. And if I also made Bingo boards around said birthday, well, that’s just me. Back to the drink. It starts with a little smooth and friendly Barsol Peruvian pisco, as our base. Then, traveling back here to the states, we go to Indianapolis, where some lush limoncello is made by Hotel Tango Distillery. And then, right back here to the W-A where birthday boy lives now, with Sidetrack’s amazing Strawberry liqueur (made on the world’s swellest farmer, just outside of Kent), and Scrappy’s unbelievable Black Lemon bitters, made in Seattle. Altogether, get your go on with the Shango! On your birthday, or anyone’s birthday!


The Shango


Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounce Barsol pisco

3/4 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Strawberry liqueur

3/4 ounce Hotel Tango limoncello

Dash Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters


1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything, and stir. Go, go, go!


2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink around the world.

October 14, 2016

What I’m Drinking: The Burst of Feeling

This is a globe-trotting flavorsome sipper, which actually uses ingredients from three different continents. Really! I think. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think I’m right, though with the teutonic shifting, well, you never know what’s changed in the many years since my geography classes. What I do know is that it’s a swell mix, thanks in large part to the addition of Bundaberg ginger beer (some of which, lucky me, showed up in the mail not too long ago. Don’t hate me cause I’m lucky). Out of Australia, Bundaberg makes a variety of tasty beverages, but is at the moment best known for its ginger beer, a n/a version made from all-natural nature-y things (roots, spices) and being a very smooth drink, with a hint of sweet and good underlying gingerness. Here, I pair it with two other flavorsome friends: Peruvian brandy Pisco, and a little Euro insertion thanks to old chum Italian aperitif Aperol. As a trio, at first glance, they may seem oddly matched, but everything brings a little this, a little that, a little of their own personality. Lots of flavor, while still being refreshing.

burst-of-feelingThe Burst of Feeling

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces pisco
1/4 ounce Aperol
Ice cubes
4 ounces Bundaberg ginger beer

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the pisco and the Aperol. Stir well.

2. Fill a smallish highball or a good-sized Old Fashioned-y glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass.

3. Top with the Bundaberg. Stir well.

November 4, 2008

Drinks on the Road: New York Drinks

Cause I’m a busy little boozer (wait, can I get away with a phrase like that? Or does it imply a cutesy-drunky combo that should never be descended toward? Ah, well, you know how I am), I’m going to have to make my recap of New York drinking a little shorter than the Boston one (which rambled in usual style). But I do want to hit a couple key spots that I stopped at, cocktail’d at, and dug hanging out within. The first was at Tailor, where I meet up for sadly only one drink with HCP stalwart Howard Stelzer and Onion AV Club scribe Andy Battaglia. The drink list there (created by Eben Freeman) is a drinking-adventurer’s earthy dreamscape, as it really is pushing some of the boundaries. The line up was thus: Howard, Butternut & Falernum (rum, butternut squash, falernum); Andy Battaglia: The Waylon (bourbon, smoked Coke); A.J., Nutty Monk (walnut Cognac, Benedictine, bitters). While I loved the inventiveness of the other’s drinks, I thought mine, with just a nutty trace socializing with herbs and Cognac, was the tops.


My second NY drink extravaganza was at Albert Trummer’s Apotheke, where he says “We look at a bargoer almost as if he’s coming to a doctor’s office.” It’s a twisty-turn-y kind of office, as it’s on Doyers Street, a vaguely backalleyish snaking street in lower Chinatown. The old-time-y pharmacist set up, with lots of beakers, and coils, and bartenders in white smocks, and the fact that our amazingly friendly waitress brought us a liquid amuse bouche right after we sat down (it was a cilantro vodka prescription), made me love the atmosphere right away. Well, that and the fact that I was drinking with NY pals Kristine and Andrew. The line up: Kristine, Strawberry Fennel (fennel-infused vodka, strawberries soaked in orange liqueur, fennel oil essence); Andrew, Five Points (House elixir #4 with hibiscus, Italian bitters, grape juice, and sugar-cane infused rum); A.J., Vanilla-Rum Julep (Madagascar infused rum, Israeli mint, house-pressed sugar-cane juice). As you can see, it was an around-the-world hospital visit. Though we were all pretty well stoked about our drinks, they did fall into the florid-fruity-in-a-field-of-flowers side of the taste spectrum, and so I really wanted to hit something a touch umph-ier. But, sadly, they were out of the ingredients for what I thought would be the ticket, the bourbon-based Autumn Harvest–however (this was luck incarnate), they did have the Saigon cinnamon-infused bourbon from it, so Mr. Trummer himself stirred me up a drink with that as a base (not sure exactly what else was in it, but a trace of lime and bitters seemed in play). Now this was a drink I could sink my cocktailing teeth into–a drink that instantly became the favorite of that night’s drinking team. Then, we got to see Mr. Trummer line up a dozen glasses with absinthe and sugar, and light them all on fire (and throw a lot of fire around). The fact that we ended up with a glass of warm and slightly sweet absinthe makes the experience that much finer.



The last (but so far, far from least) place I hit up for cocktails in NY was in Brooklyn, and is called the Weather Up. If anyone reading this is anywhere near Brooklyn right now, I suggest leaving poste haste (or right after you finish reading this) to run, speed, or skip to the Weather Up. You will not, I repeat, not, be sorry. Unless it’s like 4 am, in which case it may be closed. If that’s the teary-eyed state of affairs, just hang out on the block until it opens again. It’ll be worth it, cause the Weather Up is a lovely, tiled, intimate affair (no sign naturally–this seems to be de rigueur), with the real feel of a neighborhood bar that the folks living in the neighborhood want to keep close to their own vests. I can’t blame them. If Weather Up was in my ‘hood (yay! Loyal Heights), I would go there every night and not tell a soul outside of Nat and Sookie. I was drinking there with Michael, Miguel, Mark (whoa, a lot of M’s), and later Leslie and the girl of the future. Since the party got large, I’m not going to go through every drink, but just hit a few select hits. Oh, the whole range of cocktails and highballs and punches (oh my) were hits though (in case you were wondering), and made by bartender Gabe Harrelson, who, for my money, is one of the best bar slingers around. That guy can shake a drink folks. I started with a classic, the Pisco Sour, cause I was feeling like a standby (sometimes you want the refrains you know best, to see how well someone sings them out). It was spot on, with the frothy egg froth not overwhelming, but serious, and the Pisco itself rising and harmonizing with the lemon, egg, and simple syrup. Balanced, engaged, and great. I also had the house-monikered drink, the Weather Up, which I’ve been day-dreaming of ever since, with it’s Michelangeloesque simplicity of purpose and perfect lines: Cognac, amaretto, and lemon–it had a wide twist, interestingly draped over the glass’ rim, so you get a sniff every sip. An inspired, and inspiring, touch. I could have stayed there until dawn folks, if only I didn’t have to get up to catch a flight at 4 am. I sure can’t wait to get back to get back to NY.



PS: Don’t forget to vote. And then have a political drink, like the Ward Eight.

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