March 3, 2009

What I’m Drinking Right Now: English Martini (Winter Style)

So, right, I tend to dislike lack of originality in naming drinks. I’m upfront about it. I think drinks are imaginative little mixes that drive us to better conversations as well as transporting us from the mundane and providing us with flights of fancy and joyous silly-ness and good spirits (hah). And sure, I’m flowery, but that’s all right, right? With that said then, my take is that if you come up with a really good drink then you should come up with a really good name to match (such as Mrs. Solomon Wears Slacks), and to bring the whole creative process full circle. Which is why just adding “ini” or “olitan” to something and calling it a fine moniker bores me, even when the drink’s scrumptious. But, in the case of the English Martini, I’ll put up with it, cause that’s the way I heard it when first sampling the particular combination, and if I change it now I’ll get confused (which happens so often, why increase the possibilities?). If this all sounds a touch hypocritical to you, well, I’ll buy your next drink in penance. Anywho, the reason I’m now calling it “English Martini (Winter Style)” is that when I had one last night I used Pimm’s # 3 Winter Cup, which is based on brandy (instead of gin, like Pimm’s # 1 Cup) in a ménage with orange and spices. I don’t believe it’s available stateside (he says, like a yank), but I picked some up when on a U.K. trip last fall. It was pretty good in this drink, but I think I’ll try orange juice, instead of lemon juice, when making it again. And maybe up the Pimm’s a bit. And maybe then come up with a new name. Still, it warmed me inside and out, and got me dreaming about strolling along one of those green-as-green-can-be English hillsides, with white puffy sheep frolicking on every side. Nice stuff, isn’t it?


Ice cubes

2 ounces gin

1 ounce Pimm’s No. 3 Cup

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon twist, for garnish


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


2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass, and garnish with that lemon twist.

February 25, 2009

What I’m Drinking Right Now: Mrs. Solomon Wears Slacks

I was looking through my library (which isn’t like the booze Library of Alexandria or something, but which is an agreeable little stack of books about drinks, drinking, and more drinking) the other night for recipes for the Betsy Ross, because my pal Andrew had asked about it (for his new bar, which I talked about below. Really, this is turning into the Andrew Bohrer admiration society). Anywho, the flag-making patriot-in-liquid form as far as I found goes back to 1941 (and by the way, history buffs, I’m not saying I made a complete search of every known record and microfilm and microfiche, but just that I looked through the books in the above mentioned library), to a recipe in one of my favorites, the jolly Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion. Which was published in 1941, as you might have surmised. Now, this is a winding road way of getting here, but while tracking down the info, I re-noticed another drink, across the page from Betsy Ross, a drink with the enticing and intriguing name, “Mrs. Solomon Wears Slacks.” Which is one of the top twenty-five drink names. Or, at least, that’s what I’m saying today. In honor of Mr. Gaige’s (or whomever’s) naming prowess, I made the mix, a brandy-based affair, and it was pretty swell. I even sugared the Champagne flute’s rim, as suggested, getting sweetly jiggy with it. I mussed around with the Slacks some (gawd, that’s fun to say), but the basic ingredients stayed the same (I went a snitch higher on curaçao and bitters, and brandy for that matter). I suggest serving it up at those affairs where slacks are worn, or anytime you want to be a bit daring (which slacks were in 1941. And that’s how I’m wearing it).


Ice cubes

Super-fine sugar

2 ounces brandy

1/2 ounce orange curaçao

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Lemon twist


1. Put a good helping of sugar (but not a mound or anything) on a saucer. Wet the outside rim of a Champagne flute (I used a lemon slice, but you could also rotate it through water on a saucer–just don’t get any water in the glass). Carefully rotate the outside rim of the glass through the sugar–but you don’t want to get any sugar on the inside. No, no, not a grain. So, be careful.


2. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, curaçao, and bitters. Stir well.


3. Strain the mix into the flute. Garnish with the lemon twist (making sure now, that you get that swoosh of lemon oils from the twist into the drink and not into the atmosphere at large). Now, dance!







February 13, 2009

Get Your Ruff-Ruff On With the Rory Cocktail

Okay, this video (directed by my pal Dr. Gonzo and posted via the fine fine folks at How2Heroes) for the Rory cocktail is a bit old, but dang, I’ve been busy. Cleaning up after this drink’s namesake mostly. Which leads to why I’m posting this now, in a round-the-tree-kind-of-a-way, because I feel awful that I haven’t posted a picture of our awfully cute new(ish) puppy, Rory, yet, who if you didn’t pick it up in the earlier sentence, this drink was named after. He’s an awesome little fella (though people seem to be taking issue with my calling him “little” as he’s pretty tall already), and loves to go over and lick the bottles nearest to the ground on the liquor shelves (gawd bless him–he fits in the family). But here, check him out your-own-self:



To make the drink (which is a delish after-dinner treat, and would be good on Valentine’s Day as well) you will have to whip up some Chocolate Cream Liqueur, but that’s not much more that the flick of a blender’s “on” switch (here’s a video to tell you how to make it). And the results are going to make you bark–in a very happy way (I would have said “purr” but hey, I ain’t a cat person. Or, well, at least, don’t have cats. But have nothing against cats. But like dogs better. Oh, forget about it and watch the video).

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February 3, 2009

What I’m Drinking Right Now: The Sweet Dreams

Get ready for some Valentine’s Day hugging, kissing, and drinking (you don’t really want to have a Valentine over for a little romance without the right drink, right? I mean, you aren’t that caddish, are you? And, speaking of “caddish” is that a phrase that applies to both ladies and gentlemen? Or is a “cad” only a dude? Cause I in no way want to imply that not serving a good drink on Valentine’s Day is okay if you’re female. It’s bad no matter what. So, put that in your shaker and shake it) with this lovely mix (from Good Spirits, if you wanna relay a little information to your amorous other when serving up the cocktail). I used Washington State’s own Dry Fly gin when making it, and liked it lots, and also suggest using Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino cherries (from good ol’ WA as well), which are yummy and clean, sweetened with pure cane sugar instead of goopy high fructose junk, and which don’t contain artificial dross. Which of course you don’t want to serve up alongside the kisses. That’s just gross.


Ice cubes

1 1/2 ounce gin

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth

3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Maraschino cherry for garnish


1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, sweet vermouth, and maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake well.


2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass or pretty cordial. Strain the mix into the glass.

December 30, 2008

Cocktail Video: The Valencia

Take your New Year’s Eve party up a notch (if that’s possible–knowing the readers and pals I have, your New Year’s Eve parties are already notched up so high the belt might break. But even so, you still might like a new New Year’s bubbly beauty) with the Valencia, a drink I think sounds like it refers to an old, but somewhat shadily classy, apartment house, probably a brick brownstone, where the serious parties have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen as long as we’re lucky to walk and drink on this earth. Valencia the drink contains a captivating combination of apricot brandy, orange juice, orange bitters, and Champagne or sparkling wine (the latter being why it’s so fitting for the last day in December). In the below video, which is posted via the fine folks at How2Heroes (a site you should check out if you like drinking and cooking videos) you can see me making one of these sparklers.


If that’s not enough, and if you really want to start your New Year right (or oddly), check out this video of me (also from How2Heroes) talking about how I got into cocktail love and booze-writing and all that liquor madness. I’m also wearing a pink tie and straw hat and name dropping the Essential Dr. Strange Volume I.

And if that’s not enough, know that I’m wishing you, from a distance, if not in person (though I wish I was), the happiest and most wonderfulest 2009 imaginable. And then some. Cheers!

December 16, 2008

What I’m Drinking Right Now: Riding the Pine

People always feel bad about riding the pine (meaning, sitting on the bench during a sporting event), but golly, someone has to be there to support the team with yelling and clapping and general enthusiastic behavior right? Without that, how could those stars actually playing get the energy to keep at it? Because, everyone needs support now and then, and, for that matter, everyone needs to sit and take a load off now and then. Heck, even Captain Marvel (the red-costumed one) needed to be Billy Batson on occasion. And when you’re hanging out on the bench in support style, or hanging out to catch your breath for a bit, you should have a drink that’s named for this very scene. Or, named because I had some lovely fresh pineapple that I thought to use in a drink, and this name made sense in that situation cause of the “pine.” One of those two reasons.


The first sounds better, doesn’t it? Like I wasn’t just whipping together a drink, but really thinking deeply about what it means to be a supporter of star players, instead of actually a star, combined with what it means to take a break from stardom, and trying to distill those notions into an ideal liquid form. Now that, friends, is deep (a deep load of crap some might say, but those “some” are probably creepy teetotalers).  And, sort-of a lie, because there wasn’t “one” ideal liquid form but two, as I made the drink two ways. The first was muddling up some fresh pineapple, then adding a bit of simple syrup, a touch of pineapple juice for juiciness, and some dark rum (I used Mount Gay Eclipse, cause I’m pretty fond of its mixability, though it’s not super dark–white rum could have been used, too, but the dark gave it a touch more flavor) and shaking it up. The second was adding all of the same, plus some ice, to a blender and blending it up. Wife Nat had an urge for a blended drink (even though it’s freakily freezing out here) and far be it from me to talk her out of it. Drinkers deserve what they want. Both versions, I have to say, came out darn delicious, and tropical, and warming all at once. Which is fitting for the “Riding the Pine” moniker (well, you’re probably dreaming of the tropics when there, and your hindquarters are warm, and the drink is delicious). This drink, probably, could have been called a “Pineapple Daiquiri” or some such. But that’d be awfully boring.


Riding the Pine #1


1/4 cup fresh pineapple, plus one or two cubes for garnish

Ice cubes

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1/4 fresh pineapple juice

2 ounces dark rum


1. Put the pineapple in a cocktail shaker. Using your favorite muddler, muddle well.


2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything else. Shake really well, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple cube or two.


Riding the Pine #2


1/4 cup fresh pineapple, plus one or two cubes for garnish

Ice cubes

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1/2 fresh pineapple juice

2 ounces dark rum


1. Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend well.


2. Pour the Pine into a chilled glass of your choice, or a cocktail glass, or a basketball cut in half (but only if it’s been well-cleaned). Garnish with a pineapple cube or two.

December 3, 2008

What I’m Drinking Right Now: Saint Nick’s Rosy Cheek

This holiday helper was created for a winter parties class I’m teaching tomorrow and Friday at the wonderful and worthy Dish It Up (if you’re in the Seattle area, or visiting, be sure to check them out not only for a wide range of kitchen gear, and kitchen classes, but also for their selection of wines). The class was featured in the most recent issue of Traditional Homes (cause we all know for a real traditional home, you need lots of booze), and I had to make up some new mixes (and snacks) for the occasion. Funny enough, when the creation took place it was summer (ah, those long-lead mags) and I was drinking and mixing with rosé quite a bit (a good dry rosé, like one from those madcap vintners at Trio, is a dandy mixer), which led to the rosé-backed Saint Nick’s Rosy Cheek.


Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces rosé wine (be sure to get an actual rosé and not a blush wine)

1 ounce citrus vodka

1/2 ounce simple syrup

2 dashes orange bitters

Maraschino cherry, for garnish


1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rosé, vodka, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake well.


2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass, interesting cordial glass, or anything you won’t drop. Strain the mix over the cherry. Kiss Santa’s cheek.


I used Regan’s orange bitters here, and it worked wonders. I suggest you do the same. I like the little ting the citrus vodka brings, but think straight vodka would be good as well, and would be interested to try this with gin (I mean, I tend to like gin better anyway, but for some reason reached for the vodka originally. Now I feel sorta bad, like I’ve let gin down. Gin, I love you. Forgive me).

November 26, 2008

What I’m Drinking Right Now: Steaming Spiked Cider

It’s almost become a cliché, how much I like the booze-fueled hot apple cider within the colder months (in that it’s utterly expected that when one walks into my house they’ll smell the cinnamon, apple, and rum on the air during holiday-season gatherings). But you know what? I think being a cliché is just fine (in this one instance that is. Don’t be calling me cliché any other time. Unless my love of genius British television character Dean Learner becomes a cliché. Which would be awesome, cause the world would be a better place if everyone, when asked what they loved, said “Dean Learner.” But I digress), when the word revolves around this cider recipe, which is from the GS. It’ll warm you and your guests (and works darn well as a pre-Thanksgiving-meal sipper, too. Especially in chilly KS, Jen, if you were wondering).


4 quarts fresh apple cider

20 ounces cinnamon schnapps

16 ounces white rum

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

10 cinnamon sticks

10 apple slice for garnish


1. Add the cider to a large nonreactive saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes


2. Add the cinnamon schnapps, rum, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks.  Simmer for 15 minutes, but don’t let the mixture boil.


3. Once thoroughly warm, ladle the mixture into heatproof mugs, making sure that each mug gets a cinnamon stick. Garnish each with an apple slice.


A Note: Here are three things to remember: 1. Be careful with the cloves when scaling (meaning, too many cloves can take over the flavor). 2. Use apple cider (which is good and cloudy) not apple juice. 3. Boiling boils off some of the alcohol. If getting mistakenly to a boil, or leaving the cider on the stove for an extended period, add more rum as needed.


A Second Note: This may be too much cinnamon for some. I see no problem, for balance, in upping the rum.

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