Here’s a nice number that straddles somehow the summer, while still having a base that seems more fall-ish (rye, specifically Woodinville Whiskey Co. delicious rye. If you can get their rye finished with toasted applewood staves, do that. Do it now). Probably cause of the ice and soda and sorta tiki-ish St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram and the citrus from some fresh oj, and some local robust and fruity cherry brandy (the real stuff, not the sugary stuff that calls itself cherry brandy — I used Oomrang cherry brandy, which is yummy), but whateves. It’s a dandy treat, even here in August. I originally created it during the lockdown year of 2020, which you might remember, and which you might like to forget. The drink’s heft – while still staying light-ish on its feet mind you – might help with that! Even though that time was tough, there were I’m sure good things to come out of it, so maybe let’s not forget it completely. Like this drink, for example! Well worth remembering and having again.
Well, as you know (if you don’t, welcome back from Mars I suppose), we have been and still are in the thick of some mad times. Said times keeping most around the world at home many more hours than usual, which has led many to muscular feats of home-organizing as a way to while away the time, or to catch up with projects that once seemed perfectly fine being set aside. If you have a fair amount of bottles of brown, clear, red, green, grey, blue, yellow, bottles glittering with the promise of delicious deliciousness, bottles that when opened have the capacity to unleash tongues in song while loosening the chains on the soul (if you’ll allow me a little hyperbole), bottles filled with spirits, liqueurs, bitters, and beauty, that is, if you have these, then, like me, those bottles fall into a “home-organizing feat” normally put off. But, due to said mad times, my wonderful wife took on this herculean boozy task (I get too distracted), and organized the shelves. When doing so, she found a few bottles that seemed to have just a sip here or there left in them, and moved them frontwards, enticing me to drink ‘em up. That, friends, is all preamble to the below cocktail, which at first glance may seem an odd combination: cherry brandy, rye, and allspice dram? But being trapped at home can take you down some paths that may at first appear odd. In this case, however, the path ended so pleasantly, I’m probably going to have to go to the store to restock the shelves so I have all these ingredients. But if you look them over and say to yourself, “what the hell,” step back, and think “what the lockdown leftovers?” Cause that’s what this tasty treat really is.
Washington State distillers are dreamy (you probably have realized my feelings in this already, as I do go on – but they are awesome!), with so many worthy bottles out already, and more continuing to be released regularly. The latest example? Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon. A follow up to their highly-regarded 20-month aged Greenhorn bourbon, Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon is aged 3-1/2 years, and made from sweet yellow corn and soft white wheat from Grant County, WA, and the distiller’s proprietary wild-yeast strain harvested from a local apple orchard. If that wasn’t enough, though, the real sets-it-apart-thing here is that the aging takes place on a boathouse floating on the Puget Sound – from what I’ve been told, it’s the only whiskey in the world aged that long on the water, where the waves and tides speed up the aging (that’s the theory, at least). End result? A darn tasty tipple, with some nice sweetness from the wheat, and a mingling of sea-salted caramel, toffee, fig, orange, and chocolate.
It’s dandy to enjoy as a solo act, but of course I also wanted to try it in cocktails, and after trying this and then trying that, liked it best in The Hounds They Start to Roar. That drink has a bit of a history, which we won’t get it to too much here (you’ve already read the full story in Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz anyway, right? Right!), but I will remind you that the name comes from a Tom Waits’ song, as do the ingredients, in a way. Said ingredients are bourbon, naturally, but also St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram (the spice flavors contained therein, cinnamon, clove, and others, go wonderfully with the Chambers Bay bourbon mélange), brandy (which helps balance everything out), and Peychaud’s bitters (which adds another herbal tint or two). Together, it’s a drink fit for any sailor, dog lover, song-singer, or person reading this blog, which means you. Take it out for a walk or a sail and see if I’m right.
Well, you play that tarantella, all the hounds will start to roar
The boys all go to hell and then the Cubans hit the floor
They drive along the pipeline, they tango ’til they’re sore
They take apart their nightmares and they leave them by the door
Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair
Deal out Jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs
I’ll tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past
And send me off to bed for evermore . . .
That’s Tom Waits, friends. Lyrics from the song “Tango ’til They’re Sore,” naturally. The inspiration, that song, and the record it’s on, for this very drink. You’ll need to listen to the whole thing and the whole of Rain Dogs, now. If you weren’t already.
The Hounds They Start to Roar
2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1/2 ounce brandy (Spanish, of course)
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or goblet. Sing Tom songs, of course.
Okay, right up at the front of the stage, before the curtains go up, let me tell those readers who don’t know, what MxMo is (or at least give out what I know, which isn’t a whole barrelful of knowledge, since I’ve never had the pleasure of taking part before). Basically, it’s a bunch of bar-booze-drunken bloggers making up or bringing out a drink under a particular theme, on a Monday. So, mixology Monday I suppose. A different blog hosts every one (one a month, I believe), and they round up links to the posts about the theme on the day on their site, and send readers out and about and around the interweb to see those other posts about the theme. From what I’ve read when going boozing on the web on Mondays, the themes tend to be a particular spirit, liquor, or ingredient. However, when the really wacky bar blogger hosts, the theme may just be more, let’s say esoteric. Which is the case this month, as drink-slinger Andrew Bohrer who blogs at Cask Strength is hosting the MxMo, and he chose Tom Waits.
Which actually makes fantastically fantastic sense, as Andrew talks about in his top MxMo post (right here), in story fashion, which Waits himself would enjoy, I think. See, at heart, going around the rumbling voice and the at times otherworldly instrumentation and the harlots and hard heads, Waits is a storyteller, a boozy troubadour, a chronicler of the forgotten nights and the railroad yards, of trombone funerals and waking up wearing bruises and regret in a hotel next to the railroad tracks, of lost and long- elapsed love, and of gospel music sung under a blistering sun when all you want is a glass of whiskey and s single ice cube and the time to drink the world down.
Of course, as the above going on and on probably demonstrates, and since I’ve mentioned him in cocktail recipe intros in pretty much every book I’ve written, I’m a Tom Waits fan. I have most CDs, and listen to him on a regular basis, and have sat up singing Tom Waits with pals and bourbon and brandy until 4 am multiple times, have sat in a parked car half drunk singing Tom Waits while the thunder hit the hood like a million fists, and have put Tom Waits songs on jukeboxes with a glass of gin in one hand in more bars, lounges, dives, and hole-in-the-walls then I can remember. But as I haven’t gotten to my drink yet, I’m gonna put a leash on my Waitsean ramblings and start pouring.
Oh, wait, give me another sec, to give a drink backstory. Though I enjoy all the Waits CDs I have (including those Andrew mentions, Closing Time, Small Change, and the rollicking live Nighthawks at the Diner), the one I go back to the most is Rain Dogs. From the opening “We sail tonight for Singapore” to the New Orleans horns playing the funeral out at the record’s end, Rain Dogs matches more moods and moodiness and must-have-a-drink-while-listening-to tracks to me than any other. And while I don’t have a “favorite” song on Rain Dogs (this makes a type of sense, since they go together like egg drinks and mornings), “Tango Till They’re Sore” is the song (don’t take this morbidly, by the way) I want played at my funeral. I just want folks there to have good music, to drink well, and to toast me relentlessly, and this song, which starts “Well ya play that Tarantela and the hounds they start to roar” does just that. Not to mention that the chorus goes:
Let me fall out the window
With confetti in my hair
Deal out jacks or better
On a blanket by the stairs
I’ll tell you all my secrets
But I lie about my past
So send me off to bed forever more.
Rain Dogs also has a dandy song called “Jockey Full of Bourbon” (which has the classic line, a line I can sympathize with, “I’m full of bourbon, I can’t stand up”), so I wanted my drink to have a bourbon base, and bourbon is also mentioned multiple times within the record. The only other spirit dropped in the album is brandy (in “Union Square”), so I decided to double up on base spirits a bit, and then I wanted to bring in some bitters, in honor of the line in “9th & Hennepin” that says “till you’re full of rag water, bitters, and blue ruin.” So, that got me to three, a magic number, but because Tom Waits is also an original, I wanted to bring another ingredient into the drink that isn’t mentioned in one of his songs (four can be a magic number too y’all), but that has at least a tangential connection, and so I went with St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram. For one, it tastes great. For two, St. Elizabeth’s could be an insane asylum. For three, it’s based on an older ingredient called “Pimento Dram” which I could see Waits-style sailors drinking on a leaking dingy. When mixed in the following way, these ingredients in honor of Tom Waits and Andrew Bohrer make The Hounds They Start to Roar:
2 ounces bourbon (I used Blanton’s)
¾ ounce St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
½ ounce brandy (I used Grand Duke d’Alba cause I’m walking Spanish down the hall)
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker, mixing glass, dented top hat, or ladies leather boot halfway full with cracked ice. Add the whole bunch of ingredients. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass or goblet. Garnish with a sad song.
PS: Feel this needs a garnish? I suggest an ice pick, a dented fender from a ’54 Ford, or a tattooed tear.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More