September 4, 2020
I suppose I’ve said this many times, even recently, but also farther back, throughout the ol’ Spiked Punch blog-of-drinks history, but blackberries, to me, are the queen of summertime berries, the champion of August fruits, the glorious harbinger of winter’s doom (because I always know summer is ending when I’m plowing through blackberries), and just generally really good, especially when they’re plump and sweet but holding a tiny tanginess, too. Yummski, blackberries. I like them solo, in drinks, with peanut butter, when they have been taken by Sidetrack Distillery and made into their (also, yummski) Blackberry liqueur, and when they are painted into a still life so I can admire their artistry. So, yeah, I like them, and I like them in this here drink, which is not a far relative from some other drinks, say, the Margarita, but which has its own particular name, because why wouldn’t a good drink deserve an individual name? That’d be just silly, and while I am silly, I am not silly in that way, I’ll have you know.
You know? Back to this drink! It leans heavy into our beautiful blackberries, but that isn’t all naturally. The base, for example, is another summertime (anytime) fav, mezcal, which starts us earthy and smoky. Then, Grandeza orange liqueur, made in WA, and boasting a bright orange, vanilla flavor. You could use another orange liqueur, but this one is a treat if you can get some (I realize that during the present pandemic, it might be harder than normal to travel, so I’m not gonna try to sway you toward a WA trip. Today, at least). A little fresh lime in attendance and you’ll see the Marg mention above come to life. The final piece of this tasty puzzle has also been mentioned above: Sidetrack Distillery’s lush, lovely Blackberry liqueur. Get some! Make this drink! Believe in the power of blackberries!
The Fruit on the Table
6 fresh blackberries
2 ounce mezcal
3/4 ounces Grandeza
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
1, Add four of the blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but our second variety of ice. Shake well.
3. Fill a goblet (or comparable) glass with cracked ice. Strain the mix from Step 2 into the glass through a fine strainer. Garnish with the remaining blackberries.
August 14, 2020
Okay, to be clear, I’m not telling you that you should ignore the sun’s heat, and not take necessary precautions for safety when the big ol’ yellow ball is high and hot and the Mercury has risen to precarious degrees. Be safe, friends, in all ways! However, I do think Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun is a delicious name for a delicious summertime, heated weather drink, and if I can say so without sounding like a jerk, I think the below unveiled liquid number fits that bill like a perfect pair of summer shorts. So, now, preamble over.
This particular summer drink is made possible by the postal service – cause it was from their hands a lovely delivery of Diplomático Mantuano rum showed up at my house one day. This is a nice rum, in my opinion (as the kids say) at least. A blend of rums aged up to eight years, it’s fairly mellow, smooth, flavorful (with fruit notes – dried and fresh oranges, plums – vanilla, oak, and spice), a little sweet, carrying a bit of a kick, and pretty darn tasty all on its own, solo, singular, alone. I almost didn’t save enough to try in a cocktail, but those fruit flavors begged me to, and, as hot as it is today, I felt that maybe it’d be temperature-worthy to ice and tall it up some. But what to mix with it?
Well, I wanted to keep the summertime fruit flavors flowing, so my first choice of pals for the rum to play with was Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur. A perfectly wonderful distillery on a farm where all the fruit, spices, herbs, and such used to make their array of must-taste products are grown, Sidetrack has a bounty of fruit liqueur choices, but Strawberry went ideally (as it does with summer). Next up, more fruitiness, this time fresh from the orange’s mouth – meaning, fresh squeezed orange juice for a welcoming citrus burst. But the fruit doesn’t stop there, oh no! I also added a little Fee Brothers peachy Peach bitters, and a hint of simply syrup, which isn’t fruity, but which brings our rummy fruit salad together. You could try without, and I wouldn’t swear about it. Then, it’s on to ice and soda to keep things cool and hydrated, and voila! A sunshine’s-out-sensation!
Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun
1-1/2 ounces Diplomático Mantuano rum
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Strawberry liqueur
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash Fee Brothers Peach bitters
1/2 ounce simple syrup
4 ounces chilled club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the soda. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass.
3. Top with the club soda. Stir, not mightily, but in a manner that brings everything together. Enjoy the fearing no more.
September 21, 2018
Trends at times seem to come out of nowhere (probably because I am not as knowledgeable as I should be – I can admit that!), and one that has shown up in the last few years is various yuzu – the rough-skinned lemon-looking citrus fruit popular in Asian countries – items in cocktails. However, I hadn’t really found a yuzu-based ingredient that felt made for cocktails. Until this summer, the summer of 2018! When Sidetrack Distillery (the wondrous spot on a farm right outside Kent, WA here in WA) unveiled their new Yuzu Liqueur. Now, I know how good all of the Sidetrack Liqueurs are, made using fruit, produce, and other items grown on the Lazy River Farm where the distillery resides. So, I had high hopes for their Yuzu – and it delivers. Citrus-y in a way that straddles lemon, grapefruit, and little mandarin orange, it has orchard aromas for days, and then a rich taste that trails off with a bit of kick, balancing the liqueur’s sweetness. Great stuff and made locally to boot– but what to do with it?
Well, my first thought was a gin that has a whisper of citrus, and, you know what (I say humbly)? It was a very good thought. The gin I went for was Wildwood Spirits’ Kur gin, also made in wonderful W-A, with local wheat, jumping juniper, various other delights, and a bit of Seville oranges. Then, our drink didn’t need much more, just a hint of brightness and botanicals from some Dolin Blanc vermouth, and a little spice and some light undertones from another local, Scrappy’s Orange bitters. Altogether, a (as you’d guess from the title) delicious drink, one with a nice backbone and a full strata of delicate and more forward citrus and spice, a drink that’d be a fine pre-dinner, during-dinner, or post-dinner accompaniment.
You, Sue, Are Delicious
1-1/2 ounces Wildwood Spirits Kur gin
1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Yuzu liqueur
1/2 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Wide lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in. Oh, be sure you’ve tasted that Yuzu liqueur on its own, too. Or you’ll be sorry.
September 14, 2018
While we aren’t really into fall (theoretically, the season starts the 22nd), it still feels like we’re oozing into the time of year when bourbon is in the air. Here, in this drink, it’s the sea air, in a way, as the base we’re working with is a new release from Chambers Bay, a distillery here in Washington which ages their whiskey on a floating boathouse (on the Puget Sound, which eventually connects with the sea). The specific whiskey is Chambers Bay’s Straight Bourbon (I received some in the mail, lucky me), Batch #3, which was bottled in late July after being aged in oak barrels a minimum of 3-1/2 years. Due the boathouse movement, however, the aging process actually feels (tastes?) as if it was aged longer. They also make the bourbon with grains (corn, white wheat, barley) from Grant County, WA, and use a wild yeast from local orchards. What’s it all mean beyond the swell local-ness? A bourbon with lots of depth, and a flavor that’ll make you skip with happiness: caramel, and a little fig, nuttiness, oak, and other spices – plus a small hint of salt and sea air.
All of which equals a nice whiskey to sip, but also a nice one to mix with, especially with other spice treats. Here, I started the mingling with an award-winner: Raft Cardamom bitters (which was named 2018 Product of the Year by the Specialty Food Association), a great savory and spice bitters that’s going to add some depth and add to the pack of flavors we’re bringing together. One note: these bitters are also under the Bitter Housewife brand, but don’t get confused, it’s a sibling of Raft. It’s made in Portland, OR, by Genevieve Brazelton, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Portland, Oregon’s Improper Goods, the overall brand Raft and the Bitter Housewife live under, along with a great group of syrups, bitters and cocktail kits made with care. Yummy stuff.
But the bourbon and bitters aren’t’ the only yummy stuffs here. I wanted to keep building on the spice notes, and bring in some complimentary pals, too. Enter, one Italian-influenced local favorite, Sidetrack Distillery’s memorable and delicious green-walnut-based Nocino, and one favorite actually from Italy: the divine Meletti Anisette. These two have been parts of many drinks I’ve made due to their fantastic flavors – as well as being favorites when sipped solo. All together, this is a layered, memorable, fall drink that you’re sure to want to make for all your friends.
Pup In A Blanket
2 ounces Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon (Batch #3)
3/4 ounces Sidetrack Nocino
1/4 ounce Meletti Anisette
2 dashes Raft Cardamom bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Cuddle with the dog of your choice (without spilling your drink, naturally).
September 7, 2018
Well, here we are, in September, with summer sadly retreating into its annual hibernation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t drag it out a little – after all, summer is both a state of mind and resides in many things. One of the main, for me, is blackberries, which always make me dream of summer no matter what time of year. But this time of year is perfect, because you can still get awesome summer-y blackberries and then use them in many ways – like in this drink! I got the ones used here at the lovely Lazy River Farm, on which is the awesome Sidetrack Distillery, one of my favorites in the state of WA. On the farm they grow the fruit and produce that Sidetrack uses in their liqueurs and brandies and such (it’s all the same fine folks doing the growing and distilling). And, my wife and I and some pals recently went out to pick some berries – and taste some delicious drinks – including blackberries.
Okay, enough pre-amble! On to the show – and by that I mean this drink. Wife Nat came up with this one, and it shows, as the drink is built on some of her favorites, including swell Sotol, the tequila neighbor made in Mexico from the Desert Spoon plant, and the slightly spicy and all-the-way luscious Ancho Reyes ancho chili liqueur. Perfect partners. Of course, as you’re expect from the above graph, it’s also built on blackberries, both fresh and in Sidetrack’s Blackberry liqueur, which deliver a rich, deep, berry taste. An intriguing combo, but one that goes well together, especially with a touch of lime. And now we have the Roll Out the Blackberries all rolled out.
Roll Out the Blackberries
6 fresh blackberries
2 ounces Sotol
1 ounce Ancho Reyes ancho chili liqueur
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime wedge, for garnish
1. Add the blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything outside of the lime wedge. Shake really well.
3. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wedge. Remember, summer lives in you (with every sip).
May 26, 2017
As all know, I am fond of many local WA-state distillers, and one of my very favorites (you probably know this too, having been reading this blog for years and years, correct?) is a distillery on a farm – farm and distillery all the same fine folks – in a valley outside of Kent, WA, a distillery called Sidetrack. Not only do they deliver fine products using produce grown on their farm, but they also have a beautiful event space in a refurbished old barn. Super swell stuff. While they get a lot of deserved plaudits for their liqueurs (from fruit to walnut-based Nocino to more exotic fare like my favorite Lemon Verbena), they also make clear, European-style, fruit brandies. Delicious, strong, and hopefully liquids more Americans will start sipping. I think my favorite Sidetrack brandy – though I like them all – is Strawberry. It’s like the essence of strawberry, the Platonic ideal, while being robust and umph-y. It is a spirit, after all. I like it so much that I wanted to create a drink with it, but it was tough (as it can be with many fruit brandies) at first, due to user error. Hahaha. But I kept at it, and eventually went with a favorite dessert inspiration, the king of dessert drinks, the Alexander. Then, after a bunch of tweaks, the below emerged, and is lush, layered, and if I can say while being humble, pretty darn wonderful. Good after dinner both because of its hints of dessert and because of its strong backbone.
1-1/2 ounces Sidetrack Strawberry brandy
1 ounce Depth crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake really well. Really well!
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of orchards.
A Note: An actual strawberry would make a fine garnish here, but sadly I was strawberry deficient.
December 8, 2015
Hey Seattle and WA State residents, drink lovers, and awesome people! It’s the party season, and you’re throwing your parties in the wrong places. You are! You should be throwing them at a local distillery. Cause that’s where the fun is! Don’t believe me? Check out this recent article I wrote for the sweet Seattle magazine, called: Where to Host your Next Party: A Distillery. Then start printing up the invitations.
November 18, 2014
Hello! You, yes you, are invited to a very special event celebrating my mom and her upcoming film, Speaking of Dying. The film is a documentary showcasing community-based end-of-life planning as pioneered by Trudy James, my mom that is, chaplain and facilitator. You’ll be able to watch the film trailer, meet filmmaker Jennifer Jones and editor Catherine Wadley, connect with people featured in the film, see old friends, and make new ones! Plus, have delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks by me, including the Last Word, the Desert Healer, and the Sparkling Sunset, using products from local distilleries Seattle Distilling Company and Sidetrack Distillery. It’s Saturday, November 22 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Spring Street Center, 1101 15th Ave, here in Seattle, WA. Hope to see you there!