I swear, this has to be a drink already, with another name. It’s very classically minded, and an obvious relative to drinks such as that which will not be named (but which ends in “tini”). It does use rose’ vermouth, which isn’t as readily available in the U.S. as one would hope (as you might expect, it’s neither as dry as French vermouth or as herbal as Italian vermouth, or dry and sweet vermouth respectively, and light on the tongue like its namesake wine), so it might not yet be named. However, rose’ vermouth has been available then and now, maybe moreso then, even, so some variation of this (maybe with a different bitters, since the Bitter Truth, even with their classical leanings, haven’t been around that long) seems like it has to have been around. I’d check the library, but the library is in Seattle and I’m in the Italy. Some bartender or bar writer out there will, I’m sure correct me. But until then, I’m going with Da Molto Tempo, and having it lots:
1-1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce rose vermouth
1 dash Bitter Truth Aromatic bitters
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with cracked ice. Add the gin, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
PS: For those inquisitive ones: it means “a long time ago.”
A little serious (with the seriousness of gin), but with enough fruity overtones to ensure no one gets ponderous in conversation or step, the Après Coup is easy enough to make on a whim but layered enough in flavor to support a whole party. As long as the partiers weren’t opposed to staying up late. Cause you know a drink with Maraschino is going to have you up past midnight, right? I mean, the Maraschino (and I go Luxardo, because that’s the way I roll) is all about living after midnight. So much so that Rob Halford used to carry a whole crate of bottles of tour with him. Think I’m fibbing?
1-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce Chambord
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur
1 dash Peychaud bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass three-quarters full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Chambord, Maraschino, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass (or, if there aren’t any clean ones left, any old glass that isn’t tattooed with lipstick or halfway full with an old drink works).
Though this is Halloween week, making it the ideal time of year for a ghoulishly good (gawd, it’s fun to get yr Halloween speak on) mix like the Warlock, it really brings a magical charm to any evening. Well, any evening that you’re feeling like a yummily mystical mixture of brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters (which should really be any evening, now that I think about it). Click on through to the below video and learn the exact tricks to making it, but be warned!!! It can change you into a conjuring zombie. But now you know.
“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
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.
Happy salivating September folks. Welcome to another month where you should be trying to have as many cool and creative cocktails as you can consume without causing chaos (or making you miss too many mornings). The reason, you might ask, if you were the asking kind, that September is so salivatious? It’s because of this very blog post, where I’m going to cut at least some of the chatter off the tree and present you with a few more almost drinkable photos from the San Francisco trip I had not all that long ago (and which I detailed a bit in a post you probably remember fondly called Drinks on the Road: San Francisco, Part I). But before the drink pics (hah, I always do this: set up, then aside), a quick shout out to my pals at the wondrous Chow.com, who brought me in to Chow HQ while I was in San Francisco to shoot some tips. And no, tips aren’t an endangered species (wow, the jokes come at a fast pace here at Spiked Punch), and yes I’ll post some later. But first, check out me preening while camera-person extraordinaire Blake Smith sets up a limoncello shot. You can’t see her here, but pal Meredith Arthur is taking the pic, directing things with calm and aplomb like she did all day (not easy to do when dealing with a diva like me).
After the tipping, I made a quick change into my Bob Fossil t-shirt, and then headed out to meet Meredith and her-husband-and-pal Michael for a drink at Range in the Mission (for more on Range, be sure to check out the blog Inside the Blood Bank). It was a sweet little spot, and M & M are great drinking companions (though I somehow managed to forget to take a pic of them, which is a shame, as they’re cuties) and I got to have a (drum-roll here) Zyzzyva cocktail. Not only was it a tangy-herby-august mixture of gin, yellow Chartreuse, apricot brandy, and fresh lime, but it was a tangy-herby-august mixture of gin, yellow Chartreuse, apricot brandy, and fresh lime named after the magazine (that I love) that published my first book, Want. Dang, that’s what’s listed under the definition of “Awesome.”
The next day after that (please, please, don’t ask me to name what day it was though), Nat I had a day of drinking delights. You know, I should copyright that phrase for my new tour guiding service (you know, I should have a tour-guiding service). “A.J.’s Day of Drinking Delights.” You’d sign up, right? Our first stop was in the middle of Chinatown (forget about, it’s Chinatown. No, no, don’t forget), where we slipped into the Budda Bar, a lovely little dive we had to ourselves, along with the amiable bartendress and the owner, who kept coming up to talk to us from the basement. We charmed him (natch), and he introduced us to the following unknown Hong Kong sipper (he insisted we swirl it around our mouth and teeth before swallowing though, as it’s not a shooter). I hadn’t had said spirited drink before, but it had a very powerful, not harsh, sense about it, like a good strong peasant grappa.
That night, we met pal Megan (from HCP and the A Year in the Life Beatles blog no less) at the Clock Bar, which is a stylish spot situated in the classic Westin St. Francis hotel downtown. It’s managed by a dapper and friendly fella name Matthew Meidinger, who not only helped me out recently with an article (which I’ll talk about when it comes out), but who also treated us to a few of the Clock Bar’s perfectly made cocktails that night, starting out (for me) with a slightly savory Sage Advice, a drink that could stand tall at any bar with its combination of Rittenhouse rye, Italian-specialty Averna amaro, fresh orange juice, black tea honey syrup, and good pal Peychauds bitters. I might like that drink so much I’d let it take my dogs for a walk.
Matthew not only ensured we had a host of helpful (well, why not?) drinks at the Clock Bar, but he also pointed us towards the Heaven’s Dog for dinner and more drinks, calling ahead to assure us a spot, getting us a cab, and making sure we didn’t trip on the way out the hotel. I tell you, if you’re in S.F. and don’t visit the Clock Bar, you only have yourself to blame. For that matter, if you don’t visit it and Heaven’s Dog, then you shouldn’t even talk to yourself any more. Because Heaven’s Dog was also, well, heavenly. General Manager Erik Adkins met us at the door and swept us off our feet with his genial good nature and miles of smiles. What is it about S.F. and friendly bar folks? Sometimes it’s best not to question, and instead just be happy with your fine fortune (a phrase sounding somewhat fortune cookie like). At Heaven’s Dog we had multiple snacks from the dinner menu, which is set up for sharing and which has a Vietnamese flavor (like Vietnamese tapas, someone said)–perhaps the tops was the vegetarian pork belly, tofu skin, shiitake mushrooms, clam shell buns, and scallion–and all was yummy. But the drinks, the drinks were even yummier. Ours were made by the also-friendly and very knowledgeable Eric Johnson. He’s opening (by the way) a new spot called Bar Agricole in the very near future, so keep your eye open for it (and your mouth wide open). Eric made us a whole host of cocktails and highballs and their brethren and sisteren. Sadly, we didn’t take too many photos, as we were busy talking, drinking, and eating, and those we didn’t take we went flashless on (not to mention that I put the monkey book away, so am guessing a bit on what we had). But here’s one nice pic of Eric I think putting the finishing touch on a Gin Fizz Tropical, which was gin, pineapple gum syrup, orgeat, lime, egg white, mint, and soda:
Ah, San Francisco and the many bars and just outstanding people on both sides of them. Hopefully we make it back soon. And if the above didn’t get your “thirsty” button pushed, then you must be a zombie. Except that even a zombie would be thirsty after those pictures. So, go get your zombie-self a cocktail, why don’t ya?
I’m getting ready for a little Wine Cocktails evening at bar Poco here in Seattle on Thursday (more about that later–but if you must know, it’s Thursday at 7 pm and you should be there), but wanted to take a second to look back at when I was out of this fair sunny city (no laughing on the “sunny;” it’s balmy and blue-skied here) a week ago, visiting various watering holes in San Francisco. And yes, I forgot to call pal Andrew, and am sad about it, but I’ll power through just to point out the hits to you, in two part fashion. The first part is all about the cocktail’d night that wife Nat and I hung out with drinker par excellente’ Camper English (who in the below pic is savoring a broccolini stem–tre’ international).
If you don’t know the legend of Camper English, he writes the educational (and yet still entertaining—it’s edutainment. And yes, you can hit me in the head for saying that word) blog Alcademics, which is all about the cocktails, the bartending, and the booze. He also used to write Camper’s Hate Blog (which is genius, and worth going back through), and lots of other stuff (you can really learn more than you probably want at Cramper.com). He’s funny. And knows the San Francisco cocktail bars like few others. He suggested we meet at the new-ish Rickhouse, which luckily was near our hotel in the financial area, as we went there straight off the plane after checking in. The Rickhouse has a heavenly cocktail list with lots of information and drinks (sadly the actual menu was a bit too nice to steal, though we were tempted, being recidivist in our menu-stealing ways), a barrel stave ceiling (with barrel hoop lights), and a table right near the front window that we hooked. For the first round I had a Rye Maple Fizz, cause I was feeling rye-y and a drink with maple syrup hooks me like a trout on corn, Mr. English had a Laphroig Project (he’s a smoky essence enthusiast–check for this drink’s recipe here), and Nat had a Bella Fragollo, which was Italian-y goodness.
All the drinks we had there were expertly made right in front of me by the talented staff as I gazed at the immense wall of booze. Seriously (and easily believed, as they’re a sibling of the top notch liquor store Cask, so they have an “in” to booze-shelf-stocking), they have a 15-or-20-foot wall of bottles behind the bar. I went into a trance, and when I woke up I had a drink in my hand, a smile on my face, and a little slobber on the smile. Which sounds much grosser than it was.
After another round, we realized that if we didn’t eat we’d fall over (which would have bored Camper and not done much for our reps), so we went (on his suggestion–he’s a “vegetalian,” too, so finding an eating spot for all and sundry was a snap. Oh, a “vegetalian” as I found out is a cocktail-swilling vegetarian. Don’t smirk) to Beretta, in the Mission district. Baretta was, as the kids say, the stuff (well, except for our first bartender, who seemed to wearing my grandmother’s velour curtains. The second bartender was a dream, though). Waiting for our table I sipped (or gulped) an Angelina that demonstrated the bar’s grasp of balancing perfectly a few key ingredients (a sweet skill to have): Partida Anejo tequila, Carpano Antica, and Benedictine. Tasty indeed, with the tequila mingling with the other two’s herbal natures in an unexpectedly complenting manner. Nat had a Agricole Mule (rum, lime, ginger, mint, and pic’d below), and Camper had a Single Village Fix with Del Maguey Mezcal (that smoky thing again), lime, and pineapple gomme. All deliciousness, and matched in their heights by our eventual dinner, which consisted of a couple thinly Italian pizzas, some broccolini (re: Camper pic above), and some unbelievably good bruschetta topped with fava bean and pecorino puree. This thick-crisped-bread-topped-with-a-smooth-but-with-a-few-chunks spread lushed up the mouth. So good we ordered it twice. I kid you not. Let me repeat for effect: I kid you not. We had more good cocktails there and then, too, and lots of Camper talk, and finally tumbled into a cab in the best way: fat and drunkish. Thanks Camper, thanks S.F., and thank you, too (and watch for S.F. post number II soon).
Just two on this lucky day–but two good ones (well, one good drink and one good post). And it’s lucky because A: it’s Friday the 13th (I tend to want to turn around bad luck omens on their heads, so I think of this day as lucky for anyone not camping near a lake. But if you’re silly enough to do that on a day like today, then, well, maybe it’s best you are camping near that lake), and B: yesterday was pal and rapidly-shaking Seattle bartender Andrew Bohrer’s birthday. In honor of said luck, here are two links from his blog, CaskStrength. A blog that’s been a little lonely lately, but only because he just opened a new bar, Naga (which I mentioned more in-depthly here), and is working ferociously to ensure you (yep, you) get the best drinks possible. Which means, if you want to be really, truly lucky, you’ll head out to restaurant Chantanee where bar Naga is (doubly lucky, by the way, cause the food in the restaurant is just amazingly tasty: have the crispy spicy tofu before you dodder on into the afterworld or call your life incomplete), and have him mix you up a drink. Then buy him one for his birthday. And then have him mix you up one. And so on, into the sunset.
Penelope’s Pit Stop: This is way deep in a longer post about elfin-magic-potion Chartreuse, but any drink that combines tequila and the just-mentioned Chartreuse and lemon juice and a muddle pear for gawd’s sake demands to be tried. Or at least be talked about. Or, if not that, be thought about for the rest of this day (a Friday, after all) until you can’t take it any more and rush home to make yourself one. That’s my take on it.
How to Carve an Ice Ball: Okay, this isn’t a drink at all, but whiskey is a drink, and one that I (and most I know) have all by its lonesome on occasion, over a bit of ice usually, and this post from Andrew is about carving an ice ball to serve your whisky over, so as to maximize the ratio of ice to booze. It’s pretty darn cool. And Andrew has ice balls at Naga (and if anyone doesn’t have a childish, 12-yr-old boy laugh at the phrase “Andrew has ice balls at Naga” then they need to go soak their head), and is a bit obsessed with ice balls (I saw him carving one on the bus once), so it’s a worthy post to read.
It’s not only March (a month which lends itself to trying new drinks—wait, every month lends itself to trying new drinks), but also my pal Nicole’s birthday (yay!), which means you should not only try a new drink (from the list below), but also give her a toast when drinking it. And then give yourself a toast on the next sip. And then give me a toast on the third sip. And then how about a toast for Dr. Strange on the next sip. And by then you shouldn’t need toasting reasons for sipping anymore.
Matatlan Oax: Learn a lot about mescal (a good idea on birthdays) at A Mountain of Crushed Ice (which, I have to say again, is a fantasticalicious name for a blog), and then try a couple drinks made with it, including the Oax, which uses the aforementioned mescal and a bunch of fruit flavors to travel the road to deliciousness.
Moral Suasion: Bringing a little history and art into the mix, as is a good idea on birthdays, this elegant little number comes from The Art of Drink via the 1873 Daily Picayune (out of New Orleans), or the other way around. That doesn’t matter as much as remembering that cheerfulness and drinking have gone on so well together for so long. What a beautiful world.
Maime Taylor: Ah, a favorite for springtime’s approach (and fitting well into this post’s month-of-March-M-drinks), Maime is given a gracious going-over at the Underhill Lounge (a lounge that’s always worth a visit). Its refreshing nature is sure to bring a smile, even if it’s freaking freezing outside (like it is here in Seattle). Luckily, the large dollop of scotch is sure to warm ya.
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