March 18, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Mike Collins

I realize some may be saying “wait, has A.J. lost it, shouldn’t this drink have been made for yesterday, the actual Saint Patrick’s Day?” And while I can’t say I haven’t lost “it” (whatever “it” may be), I can say that I am fully of the opinion that while Saint Patrick’s Day can be a jolly time, and while I’m all for savoring and celebrating Irish culture and history (and other cultures and histories, too, for that matter), I don’t think that it should be regulated to just one day! Especially (for the sake of this particular blog’s focus, but not overall naturally) when it comes to drinks highlighting Irish whiskey or other Irish-made imbibables. Hence, the Mike Collins, the Tom Collins sibling (a once-large family now sadly less-known) that subs in Irish whiskey instead of Old Tom gin. I love ‘em both, but if you’ve yet to be introduced, Mike’s whiskey undertones of vanilla and spice and grain (I’m going with Teeling Small Batch today) and sweet nature go rather nicely with the citrus zing and bubbles here – while also providing a nice kick to the affair. It’s a springtime favorite, but one I’ve found lends itself more to early spring, to sitting outside and sipping on the porch while there’s an echo of chill still in the air (as opposed to running full-on through a late-spring field of flowers). A swell celebration today, as well as yesterday and tomorrow.

mike-collins

Mike Collins

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces Teeling Small Batch Irish whiskey

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 ounce simple syrup

Chilled club soda

Lemon slice for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, juice, and simple syrup. Shake well.

 

2. Fill a Collins glass or comparable three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the ice. Fill almost to the top with chilly club soda. Garnish with the lemon slice (stirring briefly if you want Mike mixed more).

 

 

March 11, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Ti Penso Sempre

This is a cozy drink for a chilly March day! It reminds me, too (as I’ve been making it for a bit), of the dark days before Aperol was available in the U.S., and when the now-everywhere (a good thing!) stateside Spritz was just something Italian sipped. Doesn’t seem that long ago to me (I am very old) when I used to have to always bring two bottles of Aperol back in my suitcase when traveling back from  lovely Italy, one for personal use and one for a pal. What changes have come since then (now I just have to fill my suitcase with grappa unavailable here)! Back to this here, drink. It mingles in a cuddly manner bountiful brandy with that Aperol I was going on about, with a tiny salute of simple syrup and a fresh orange for a tint of tang. It can be a bit sweet, like you, so if you want to take the simple to even tinier levels or out altogether, it’s okay. Things will still be cuddly.

ti-penso-sempre

Ti Penso Sempre, from Dark Spirits

 

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces brandy

1 ounce Aperol

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Orange slices, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the brandy, Aperol, and simple syrup. Shake well.

 

2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass and be glad your local liquor store shelves are well-stocked (one hopes, at least).

 

March 4, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Up In Mabel’s Room

I feel pretty awful that I’m not 100% sure I have actually ever known a Mabel, and so have never actually been up in Mabel’s room, which seems a mysterious, wonderful, alluring place, one where rye flows like water in a waterfall of grapefruit juice and simple syrup, one where the foxtrot trots, and laughter reigns, where no-one frowns and no-one is divisive, and all drink (and eat – cheese, lots, in Mabel’s room, and pastries I’m guessing) and are merry. My kinda place. Now, I just need to know a Mabel.

up-mabels-room

Up In Mabel’s Room, from Dark Spirits

 

Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounces rye

3/4 ounces fresh grapefruit juice

3/4 ounces simple syrup

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Shake exceptionally well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Be Mabel.

 

A Note: I know, I know, it’s usually ice cubes and shaking. But cracked ice works here. Go figure!

 

December 3, 2021

What I’m Drinking: Aunt Betsy’s Favorite

Can you believe it – it’s December, 2021, already. Holy time-moves-quickly! Though, even if we didn’t have calendars and suchlike to alert us to the fact, the weather outside might cause one (in the northern hemisphere, and suchlike) to think through chattering teeth, “I believe it’s December, because the cold has infested my bones.” Or, suchlike. What to do, as time machines are out of the question, currently? I mean, you can’t go back in time to escape the cold, and while putting layers of blanketing devices on your person will perhaps reduce the chill, it certainly isn’t as jolly as a good warm (or hot, even) drink. May I suggest, in this warming manner, Aunt Betsy’ Favorite? It’s a wine-based treat, one fortified as the season demands with port and brandy, and well-spiced (the season also seems to demand this – just look at holiday desserts). It also serves, depending on temperature, temperament, and suchlike, somewhere between 5 and 8 people – and, as well all know, a crowd of pals is a warming thing. So, this is doubly-warming! Take the edge off of December with it, and stay cozy, and suchlike!

aunt-betsys-favorite

Aunt Betsy’s Favorite, from Dark Spirits

 

24 ounces red wine (I suggest a Cabernet Sauvignon)

16 ounces tawny port

8 ounces brandy

4 ounces simple syrup

1 orange peel

3 whole cloves

1 stick cinnamon

1. Add all of the ingredients to a medium-size saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes. You want it to get good and hot, but not start boiling, or even simmering. Reduce the heat midway through the cooking time if needed.

 

 2. Once the 10 minutes have passed and the room smells wonderful, ladle the mix into heavy mugs. Avoid serving the orange peel, cloves, and cinnamon stick if your pals are worried about clunking up their smiles.

 

 

November 26, 2021

What I’m Drinking: The Gizmo

Ygizmoou’re full. I’m full. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, the fillingest holiday of the year here in the US, where many (like me!) overeat without a calorific care in the world. And even with that feasting, there still tends to be leftovers. Luckily, in the cranberry sauce case, cause then you can have the traditional post-Thanksgiving Gizmo, a Thanksgiving drink that’s been had around tables and fireplaces and back-porches for many a long year (originally created by a genius named Jeremy Holt). So, no matter your fullness level, start your shaking!

 

The Gizmo

 

Ice cubes

2-1/2 ounces gin

1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce

1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional)

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and cranberry sauce, and syrup if using. Shake exceptionally well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up, Thanksgiving-style.

November 5, 2021

What I’m Drinking: The Poor Harriet

poor-harrietWe’re rolling, rolling, rolling into the happening winter holiday season, which means top hats and tails are being pressed (well, in my 1920s fever-dream at least) and people like you and me are stocking up on bubbly. While our parties may take different forms than past years, let’s hope parties with bubbly drinks are still being planned, cause if they aren’t, well, the world wouldn’t be quite as sparkly and shiny. What also helps make things more sparkly and shiny is of course having a new bubbly drink to have and make and serve at these parties, which leads us to The Poor Harriet. This effervescent number combines old pal gin (who has made many a holiday party mighty), fresh orange juice (a healthy cold-weather hit since oranges blossomed), Parfait Amour (if you don’t know, a floral liqueur – think a rose-y, violet-y bouquet, that is love-based, so perfect to serve to loved ones, if a tad sweet on its own), Peychaud’s bitters (whose heartening mixture of herbs balances the sweetness), a little more sweetness (in the form of simple syrup – feel free to omit if this seems too much sweet, even during the holidays), and then, of course bubbles. Here, the bubble component is Italian sparkling wine Prosecco, which is a delight! Now, party pals, you are prepared for those upcoming holiday revels. Thank me later.

 

The Poor Harriet, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

 

Ice cubes

1 ounce gin

1/2 ounce Parfait Amour

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

Dash of Peychaud’s bitters

Chilled Prosecco

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, Parfait Amour, simple syrup, orange juice, and bitters. Shake well.

 

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a flute glass. Top with chilled Prosecco (about four ounces should do it). Stir, but very carefully, to combine. Cheers, yo!

 

July 30, 2021

What I’m Drinking: The Tangerinian Defense

Poor tangerine, always jealous of it’s more famous citrus siblings, even during summer (which is when tangerines start showing more on shelves, start showing off a bit, and start becoming a part of people’s mind palaces). I like them, even with their jealousies, tangerines, that is. Like many this sunny time of year, I picked up some lately, and have been loving them, and used them in this sunny-time sipper. The slightly sweeter (than oranges, at least) juice makes a swell addition to drinks, especially, perhaps, with rum in summer? Is that recency bias? Perhaps! But in this tangerine-y bubbler, the white rum and juice go particularly well, especially with the addition of two more citrus cousins (we’ll put the jealous aside here), in the form of Scrappy’s lovely (and singular, I think) Lime bitters, which is lime-y and lightly herbal, and another WA-state made product, Grandeza orange liqueur, boasting a rich orange-and-vanilla-ness (you could sub another orange liqueur here, but while it might be good, it might not be great). While tangerine juice has that sweet nature, I felt a touch more was needed, so also added some simple syrup. And then, as the sun is shining and the mercury is risen (I’m typing here in summer, you know), some chilled club soda and ice, and finally, one more addition to give our old jealous tangerine the last word, here, at least: a tangerine twist. A wide one, I suggest.

 tangerinian-defense

The Tangerinian Defense

 

Ice cubes

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed tangerine juice

1-1/2 ounces white rum

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1 dashes Scrappy’s lime bitters

1/2 ounce Grandeza

5 ounces chilled club soda

Tangerine twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tangerine juice, rum, syrup, bitters, and Grandeza. Shake well.

 

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass.

 

2. Add the soda to the glass. Stir carefully, to mix everything nicely together, but no need to get wacky about it. Garnish with the twist.

July 23, 2021

What I’m Drinking: The Class of the Race

Once, I, and some athletic and newsworthy and hilarious and thirsty and running pals made a very silly Class of the Race video, which you should watch cause you like fun, and you like drinks (or why would you be here). But you can watch it without a pen in hand to write down the recipe for the drink had in the video, The Class of the Race that is, because I have the recipe directly below. It’s a swell sipper, too, one worthy of any race winners, and, though bourbon-based (well, bourbon and bubbly-based), one that I believe can be had in summer, due to said bubbly, chilled. A little simple syrup, to sweeten things up, a little Benedictine, to add those monastically-herbal notes, and a little Peychaud’s bitters to underline it all, round the drink out and make a worthy finishing line for your July Friday.

 class-of-the-race

The Class of the Race, from Dark Spirits

 

Ice cubes

2 ounces bourbon

1 ounce Benedictine liqueur

1/2 ounce simple syrup

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Benedictine, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake well (but not so well that you expire from the effort).

 

2. Strain the mix into a Champagne flute. Top with the bubbly.

 

A Note: Pheidippides was the original marathoner, running from Marathon to Athens after a battle in 490 B.C. without stopping once, announcing, “We have won,” and then reportedly dying. I feel this is something you should know when having this, but don’t let it flatten your bubbles.

 

Rathbun on Film