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!
July 12, 2013
I am not, as stated in other places, a medical doctor. Neither am I Doctor Johnny Fever. I do know that according to many many old wives, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, however. I am not trying to sew discord between old wives and doctors, either, but am saying that even if a true doctor wouldn’t prescribe this drink, the fact that it contains apple cider means that it does, according to old wives, have some medicinal properties. Oh, it has rum, too, which many folks once thought was healthy, unless it was being forced on you by pirates. If that wasn’t enough for you to realize the healing factor of this drink, let me add that its third ingredient is Sidetrack Distillery Nocino, the finest Nocino made outside of Italy. Nocino, if you need to know, is a green-walnut liqueur, well and famous in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. And everyone knows that walnuts are healthy. Maybe doctors really would order this, after all. At least Doctor Fever would.
What the Doctor Ordered
2 ounces dark rum (Mount Gay works nicely)
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Nocino
3 ounces Seattle Cider Company Semi-Sweet cider
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum and Nocino. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with the cider. Stir carefully and briefly. Enjoy the good health.
February 15, 2012
As I detailed a few ticks of the Spiked Punch blog ago (and in the swell Seattle Magazine), Seattle and WA are in the midst of a distillery boom of sorts, and I couldn’t be happier. All this fantastic local booze to sip and shake and sip some more? Great with me. One of the newer distilleries that I was a little slow to track down is the Sidetrack distillery, in Kent, WA, outside of the city of Seattle (I mention this mostly to give myself an excuse for the tardy tasting, not out of any geographical bias). Sidetrack is situated right on the Lazy River Farm and makes an assortment of liqueurs and fruit brandies with fruit grown on the farm–now that’s using local ingredients. This focus on fresh and homegrown fruit lends the liqueurs (full disclosure: I haven’t had the brandies, but am excited to try them. Second disclosure: I was given samples of the liqueurs) a bright, clear fruit taste backed by a smooth slight sweetness. There are four varieties: blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry. I went with the strawberry here in the Straw Track cocktail, because it seemed to yell “summer” the most to me, and as it’s mid-February I needed a jolly jolt of summer. I think, though, that this drink is balanced enough, and bubbly enough, to have year round.
1-1/2 ounces gin (I would stick with the WA theme and use Voyager if you can get it)
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin and liqueur. Stir well.
2. Strain into a flute or other charming glass. Top with chilled bubbly and garnish with that lemon slice.