December 23, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Fish House Punch

There are holiday traditions, there are wonderful holiday traditions, and then there’s having the legendary Fish House Punch at the end of each year (or the beginning) – that’s a tradition nearly above all others, at least in the U.S., where this venerable punch has been punched up and sipped for hundreds of years, starting way back in the year 1732 (according to yore – I wasn’t actually there, though I am rather old) at Philadelphia’s Schuylkill fishing club, where I am sure (because sometimes the world is actually okay – meaning, I am not really sure, as I wasn’t there, but feel sure anyway, and want it to be true) folks sipped it by the bucketfuls around this time of year, much like I am now in the habit of doing, thanks to pals Eve and Curtis, who are annual Fish-House-Punch makers and distributors, and so I raise a glass in cheers to them, and to those who consumed this mix in the past, and to you, naturally, and to this sentence, which much like this year is now finally ending.

fish-house-punch

Fish House Punch, Serve 10

 

Block of ice (or cracked ice)

1 750-milliliter bottle dark rum

15 ounces cognac

7-1/2 ounces peach brandy

7-1/2 ounces freshly-squeezed lemon juice

7-1/2 ounces Simple Syrup

 

1. Add the ice to a punch bowl (fill about three quarters full if using cracked ice.) Add the rum, cognac, brandy, juice, and syrup. Stir 10 times, while humming holiday tunes.

 2. Stir 10 more times. Serve in punch cups or wine glasses or what have you.

December 2, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Champagne Punch

holidaysSometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. This here (or, below here) is my recipe for Champagne Punch, the one I picked up from family holiday gatherings when I was a wee one, the one I was making for parties long before even this blog started (so, dinosaurs were walking the earth), and long before I put the recipe in Good Spirits (and probably others books and articles), and long before I started typing this sentence (which is itself rather long now, though not as long as some by, say, Henry James). It’s a basic ol’ bubbly fruity rummy punchy number, not all la-de-da, but very solid, very tasty, and very much a sparkling treat that’s wonderful around the holiday season – which, low and behold, we are now in, or nearly in if you don’t want to jump the gun. A stance I understand, but good to be prepared pals! So, have the basic recipe below in your back pocket – it’s sure to be a hit at your holiday gatherings, which I’m sure will be anything but basic.

 

Champagne Punch

 

Serves 10

 

Ice (in block form if possible; if not, large chunks)

6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

4 ounces simple syrup

2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 ounces white rum

6 ounces dark rum

Once 750-milliliter bottle chilled Champagne

Orange, lime, and lemon slices, for garnish

 

1. Add the ice to a large punch bowl. If using chunks (as opposed to a large block of ice), fill the bowl just under halfway.

2. Add the orange juice, simple syrup, lime juice, and lemon juice. With a large spoon or ladle, stir 10 times.

3. Add the white and dark rums. Stir 10 more times.

4. Add Champagne, but not too quickly. Enjoy the moment. Add a goodly amount of orange, lime, and lemon slices. Stir, but only once.

5. Ladle into punch glasses or festive goblets. Try to ensure that every guest gets a slice of fruit and a smile.

July 15, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun

Here in Seattle, WA, our summer so far has been a fairly mild one, with just a few hot days, and no scorchers. But I know in some parts it’s beyond sweltering, and dangerously hot here and there, so I know summer is here and with it the need for fruity, rich, flavorful, bubbly mixes, which leads me to bringing back this fav from a few years ago. Now, don’t take its title too literally, as drinking one of these does not mean you should brave a hot hot hot day without the appropriate sun protection, from lotions to big hats to water to ac. But at least, this combo of deliciously Diplomático rum, summerific Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur, fresh oj (you don’t want scurvy anytime, but especially not when it’s hot), Fee Brothers peachy-keen Peach bitters for another fruit layer, simple syrup to add sweetness to the heat, and club soda to bubbly it up, at least this combo will help the hot days taste better, and balance the blasting heat a tasty bit.

fear--no-more

Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun

 

Ice cubes

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, but not mightily, but in a manner that brings everything together.

June 10, 2022

What I’m Drinking: Jubilee Liqueur (Homemade Liqueur, That Is!)

You probably know this, but just in case, recently the Queen of England had her Platinum Jubilee, which means (another thing you probably know!), that she’s worn the crown for 70 years. It is, in the United Kingdom (and other spots, it seems), a big deal to many, and many parties were had. And, cause she’s so nice, she asked me to come up with a Jubilee Liqueur that she could sip daintily from teacups during the various festivities.

Hahaha, did you believe that, just for a moment? It would have been ridiculously neat if you did. But sadly, it was a lie, the Queen does not know me or my liqueur-making prowess or that my backyard overfloweth with mint (wild and planted) or that I had some extra mandarins lying around lately. Or, at least, if she knows all these things, she isn’t telling me! However! I do have some pals who are from the UK, though currently living in balmy Seattle, and they like many (as mentioned above, in a way) were celebrating said Platinum Jubilee, with a big ol’ English-style knee-up shindig, doing it up right with oodles of eats and drinks and funtimes for neighbors and friends. And I thought – really, they deserve a present fit for a Queen, and so made this here liqueur in her and their honor. As you probably can guess if you’ve made it this far in this paragraph, it has oodles of mint, and some mandarin notes. It’s also based on gin, that most English of quaffs, which is a little different as most homemade liqueurs have a neutral base, while gin brings its own juniper, botanical, spice, citrus, what-have-you nature. Here, go with a good solid London/English juniper forward gin (that’s what I did!). The mint and citrus and gin and sweetness are such a swell snazzy combo, I gotta say – this really is fit for royalty. Including you!

jubilee-liqueur-1

Jubilee Liqueur

 

4 small mandarins

3-1/2 cups fresh mint leaves

3 cups gin (English gin, natch – I used Gordon’s)

1 cup water

1-1/2 cups sugar

 

1. Carefully peel the mandarins. You want the peel, but you don’t want the pith – hence the care! Mandarins tend to be pithy, so you might need/want to scrap a little of that pith off. I did.

2. Add the peels – being sure to save the mandarins – to a large glass container, one with a good lid. Also add 2 cups mint leaves. Muddle the mandarin and mint.

3, Add the gin to the container, stir, and set aside.

4. We’re now going to make a syrup. Usually when making homemade liqueurs, I let flavorings and base sit together solo for a bit before adding the syrup. But as we’re using the juice from the mandarins just peeled, felt it should be made now. It all worked out! Okay, to start, juice the mandarins. Then add the juice and remaining mint leaves to a saucepan. Muddle gently, just to get the mint oils flowing.

5. Add the water and sugar and raise the temperature to medium high. Stirring regularly, bring the mix to a boil, then bring the heat down a bit. Keep it at a smooth simmer for 5 minutes, still stirring. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely in the pan.

6. Pour the mint-mandarin simple syrup into the glass container from Step 2. Stir well, and seal. Place in a cool, dark spot. Let sit for two weeks, swirling regularly. It looks like this:

jubilee-liqueur-2

7. Strain (maybe twice!) through cheese cloth into bottles or one big bottle. Drink solo, over ice, or play around with it in cocktails, all while thinking monarchistically.

 

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.

 

 

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