November 6, 2020
Okay, obvious statement number one: you know what’s awesome? Pals are awesome. Perhaps moreso now than ever (now meaning the moment I’m typing, which is during a very bad year – future reader, I hope whatever time you’re reading this is more conducive to swell-ness), which is a somewhat interesting statement as it can be harder to see (and here I mean see for reals, not through a screen – not that that isn’t real per se, but not as real real, really) to see said pals. Make sense? Clear as brandy? How about, obvious statement number two: awesome pals who make tasty things and then drop them off for you are, well, awesome! Which is what happened for me recently, as pal Rebecca (genius pal, I might say) sent some homemade plum shrub and grenadine our way, and what a pandemic helper they have been! More of the latter later, but today, we’ve delving plum shrub style, as I used it to make a tasty (if I can say so without sounding like a lame-o) sipper which I’m calling Spirit and Substance.
It starts (duh!) with tangy, zingy, fruity plum shrub. I don’t know how it’s made, but can find out if you’re desperate. I matched with with a gin (gin and fruit = yum), specifically Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I adore due to its dry, citrus, fruit (dare I say marmalade), character. But I didn’t stop there! I thought about it (often we just see shrub+base spirit+ soda, but more felt appropriate), tried this and that, and ended up with more fruit in the way of Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. Made outside of Kent, WA on the same farm the blackberries (and other delights) are grown, its rich berry body was the ideal addition. And then, soda, ice, lemon twist, and boom! A drink that’ll bring summer into fall, and pals into your heart, if not your home bar.
Spirit and Substance
1-1/2 ounce Sipsmith London Dry gin
3/4 ounce plum shrub
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Blackberry liqueur
4 ounces chilled club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Add the gin, shrub, and liqueur to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step one into the glass, over the ice.
3. Add the club soda, and stir to combine. Garnish with the twist.
May 17, 2019
Okay, don’t be upset, but this drink (which is delicious, a smidge sweet, a hint botanical, a miniscule citrus-y, fragrant, all that) uses a homemade ingredient which I’m not providing the recipe for. Because I sorta forgot it! See, I was making some basil-lemon simple syrup as one does, but I didn’t actually write down exactly how much basil I used. It was let’s say a decent-sized bunch and a half. And I didn’t write down the exact amount of lemon juice used, but let’s say it was the juice of half a lemon. Can that get you there if you add it to a regular simple syrup recipe that delivers like three cups or thereabouts of syrup? I think it can (don’t forget to let it seep awhile and strain the basil out and all that)! If you are brave, and resourceful, and heroic, which you, I believe, are!
And it’s one wonderful syrup, which here goes wonderfully with gin. I used Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I like lots, and not just cause of the cool swan art on the bottle. But also cause of the lovely juniper, lemon citrus, and orange marmalade, dry-ish profile. It’s a yummy gin if you haven’t had it. And, speaking of yummy, our third ingredient here is Carpano Bianco vermouth, a light, wine-citrus-mineral-fruit treat that should be a part of any respectable set of liquor shelves. Altogether, this drink delivers in a manner ideal for a spring day or summer evening – now you just need to be a little heroic and make it.
Within the Week
2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry gin
1/2 ounce Carpano Bianco vermouth
1/2 ounce basil-lemon simple syrup
Basil leaf, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the leaf (beleaf it!). Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and now add the leaf. Leaf it up!
July 6, 2018
Rosé (the wine, to be clear) is now a celebrated part of many people’s summers. With good reason, due to its light, easy-going-but-flavorful natures (in most situations, that is). Actually, it’s connected so closely with summer, it’s almost a cliché – but what a tasty cliché! However, rosé cocktails aren’t so en vogue, which is a shame, because with the right rosé, you can make a layered, lovely, drink that also fits summer like a well-made bathing suit. I recently received a bottle (I know, lucky!) of Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé to prove this theory (well, is it a theory, if I’ve already proved it? I guess now it’s a rule? A law? Something along those lines, but I don’t want to get too sidetracked). A subtle glowing pink color, this rosé has the wine’s refreshing characteristics and an approachable crispness, with attractive fruits notes on the nose and tongue – both citrus and strawberries and more.
It’s worthy when the sun’s out all on its own, but also a perfect plaything when mixed with others. In this case, those others began with Sipsmith London Dry gin, a classic dry gin with just the right juniper surrounded by botanicals and citrus. Then, thinking of our rosé French history, I decided on another French favorite, Pineau Francois white pineau, an aperitif that has a grape-and-hints-of-orange-citrus delightfulness. With that trio in place, the drink was solidly sippable, but not to the heights I wanted. So, I brought in a fourth player, Scrappy’s unbelievable Black Lemon bitters (if you don’t know Scrappy’s read all about Scrappy’s), which brought an earth lemon-ness that rounded everything off. All together – yummy, and a hit for any summer party.
1-1/2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry Gin
3/4 ounces Pineau Francois white pineau
2 dashes Scrappy’s Black Lemon bitters
3 ounces chilled Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass hallway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, pineau, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Strain the above into a white wine glass. Add the rosé. Stir, gently, to combine.
December 8, 2017
I was in London last summer, and (as you do when in London, or the U.K. in general I suppose) I had a fair amount of gin, in G & Ts mostly, but some other ways, too, and was struck by how many delicious gins there were, a really wide selection in some spots. One of the favorites, and one that I found most everywhere, was Sipsmith — specifically their London Dry gin (they have a few others, too). I’d heard of it on past trips, but was stoked to see it in so many places. Launching in 2009, Sipsmith was London’s first copper distillery since 1820. This gin of theirs is a traditional London Dry, made in amazingly-small batches, and has won a fair amount of awards.
With good reason, too! The gin blends 10 botanicals, and the end result has a balanced dry juniper-ness as you sip, with a little follow-up sweetness, a little lemon, and a little of that lovely orange marmalade you get when traveling your favorite U.K. spots. You can guess that when traveling back to Seattle, even though we have our fair share of great gins, I missed Sipsmith.
But, lucky me, Sipsmith just became available over here – and I ended up with a bottle. I wanted to try it in a cocktail, as well as just swilling it solo, and wanted to keep it classic, but then also wanted to go outside the very norm of the norms. After some old book browsing, I decided to go with the Alaska. While there’s really, from what I know, no specific connection to the state that carries its name, this is a beautifully simple drink that allows the gin to shine, while also bringing another level of herb-and-spice-and-nice-ness, through the drink’s secondary ingredient, Yellow Chartreuse. A short step sweeter and easy-going-er than its Green sibling, the Yellow C plays well with Sipsmith. Depending on what old book you utilize, the Alaska Cocktail also on occasion includes orange bitters, and sometimes a twist of lemon. Here, I went with just the core two ingredients. The orange bitters, well, they’d be a good add, though I don’t think it suffers if you have the right gin. Try it, with Sipsmith, and see what you think.
The Alaska Cocktail
2 ounces Sipsmith London Dry Gin
3/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
1. Fill a mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin and Chartreuse. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink, while looking London-wards.