July 22, 2022
To be fair and up-front and all, let me start by saying that I recently received a selection of Drake’s Spiced Ice in the mail (these things sometimes happen – there is no need to be jealous!). As it’s nearing the end of July, and even up here in Seattle, W-A the sun is blaring (not nearly as bad as in many areas, where I know it’s dangerously hot, so please, be safe pals), and the mercury ticking up, which means it’s hot out, and which also means – what a fantastic time to receive some booze-y delights that are served ice cold! That’s awfully fortuitous.
For some background, Drake’s is a sustainable spirts company making vodka, rums, boxed cocktails, and Spiked Ices, one that started in the Midwest, holds five official certifications (vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, Kosher, USDA organic – they say they’re the first and only spirit brand with all five, and I have no reason to doubt them), and give a portion of their proceeds to animal welfare orgs – it’s almost like they’re a spirits company I was born to like!
Of course, one can like a company in the abstract, but to like their products (when it comes to spirits companies especially), there’s a little thing called “taste” or “yumminess” that matters quite a bit, too. Which is why I was as excited as I ever get for hot summer days to have it be a hot summer day, because an icy treat such as these should be tasted under the sun to get maximum effect, and I wanted to take the Drake’s Spiked Ice out for a spin to test the taste, and hopefully the sun hasn’t bothered my brain and this all makes sense. Anyway! There are currently three ice pop choices: Mango Vodka Punch, Black Cherry Limeade, and Watermelon Tini. Each boasting a refreshing 12% ABV and only 100 calories (good for shorts and swimsuit season I suppose), while being crafted from USDA Organic fruit juice and Drake’s own organic vodka. I gotta admit: I liked them all. To begin with, they aren’t too sweet, which is a problem with some pre-made frozen and other mixes. That higher ABV gives them a solid kick, like they’re frozen cocktails more in umph factor, skipping the sugar overload. Of the three, the Black Cherry Limeade was my fav, as it had that summery cherry slight sweetness on the front with a real lime tang following. The Mango Vodka Punch was gently mango-y, too, and if you’re a mango nut, you’d probably lean towards it. Our final ice, the Watermelon Tini (admittedly, as you know. I’m not a fan of the “Tini” in a name, but hey, I wasn’t consulted on that) for me had the least fruitiness, but I find watermelon a tricky essence to capture. Could I have ten of these in a row? Probably not without brain freeze! But I certainly enjoyed them as the sun was a’blazing. Could I take these back in time and give ten to a 25-year-old-me and then they could have ten? Probably (if time-travel was available)! Overall, Drake’s Spiked Ices are a icy booze-y treat for a sunshine-y summer’s day, ideal for the backyard, by the pool (or, as in my case, a tin bucket filled with water to put hot feet in), or on the deck.
August 14, 2020
Okay, to be clear, I’m not telling you that you should ignore the sun’s heat, and not take necessary precautions for safety when the big ol’ yellow ball is high and hot and the Mercury has risen to precarious degrees. Be safe, friends, in all ways! However, I do think Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun is a delicious name for a delicious summertime, heated weather drink, and if I can say so without sounding like a jerk, I think the below unveiled liquid number fits that bill like a perfect pair of summer shorts. So, now, preamble over.
This particular summer drink is made possible by the postal service – cause it was from their hands a lovely delivery of Diplomático Mantuano rum showed up at my house one day. This is a nice rum, in my opinion (as the kids say) at least. A blend of rums aged up to eight years, it’s fairly mellow, smooth, flavorful (with fruit notes – dried and fresh oranges, plums – vanilla, oak, and spice), a little sweet, carrying a bit of a kick, and pretty darn tasty all on its own, solo, singular, alone. I almost didn’t save enough to try in a cocktail, but those fruit flavors begged me to, and, as hot as it is today, I felt that maybe it’d be temperature-worthy to ice and tall it up some. But what to mix with it?
Well, I wanted to keep the summertime fruit flavors flowing, so my first choice of pals for the rum to play with was Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur. A perfectly wonderful distillery on a farm where all the fruit, spices, herbs, and such used to make their array of must-taste products are grown, Sidetrack has a bounty of fruit liqueur choices, but Strawberry went ideally (as it does with summer). Next up, more fruitiness, this time fresh from the orange’s mouth – meaning, fresh squeezed orange juice for a welcoming citrus burst. But the fruit doesn’t stop there, oh no! I also added a little Fee Brothers peachy Peach bitters, and a hint of simply syrup, which isn’t fruity, but which brings our rummy fruit salad together. You could try without, and I wouldn’t swear about it. Then, it’s on to ice and soda to keep things cool and hydrated, and voila! A sunshine’s-out-sensation!
Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun
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, not mightily, but in a manner that brings everything together. Enjoy the fearing no more.
May 25, 2018
Well, it’s the end of what’s been a long month (not if you track hours, in that way, it’s the same as any other month with 31 days in it, if you believe in time, and it’s hard not to), or month and a half, the kind of month (or month and a half) that could almost lead one to visiting the doc, for a little happiness. Luckily, I don’t have to take that time out of the week or set up appointments, because I know what the doctor would order – this here drink. It’s a drink that’s ideal for this time of year (whether the month is long or not), thanks to its ability to straddle the spring and the summer, or summer and fall, due to the combination of summer-loving rum, Washington-made Sidetrack Nocino (the dark rich green walnut liqueur you should be in love with), and a refreshing splash or splashes of also-Washington-made Seattle Cider Company cider. It’s flavorful, refreshing, has some umph, and is both a slow sipper and a light-hearted charmer. That’s why the doctor orders it – and why you should give it a try, too.
What the Doctor Ordered
2 ounces dark rum
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.
August 25, 2017
Just two short weeks ago (which can seem a lifetime during the savorable days of late summer) I had a drink here on the Spike Punch called the SPF – Silver Port Fizz. It featured Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny Porto, in what may have been an odd move for some, port not being a sunshine-y drink companion for many. But this Sandeman Tawny! It’s so fruity, and so full of flavor that it begs (not literally, as wine, spirits, and liqueurs shouldn’t really be talking to you) to be used in summer drinks, fruit being such a key element of the season’s liquid fare.
It’s so worthy that I couldn’t help myself dreaming up other drinks utilizing Sandeman Tawny Porto 10 to be had when the Mercury has risen and ol’ sol is beating down. And that leads us to Summer’s Charm and Courtesy. Less obviously a summer drink then our last refreshing port number, this drink bring out summer through a wave of fruit notes, all subtle separately but coming together in a rapturous (well, drinks can be rapturous, too, right?) layered lush sip after sip. It starts with the Sandeman, which delivers fruit and jam and a hint of nutty and oak, then moves into Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum (a nice note also between all the recent Dickens’ posts), which is a dream, Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao, Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters, and a little lime. Then, as the last act of courtesy (and in my mind, one can’t be too courteous), a little fresh mint.
It’s just so darn fruity! And so darn good! Darn, give this a try before another sunrise and sunset pass along past us. You’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, the sun will be happy, and all will be well.
Summer’s Charm and Courtesy
1-1/2 ounces Sandeman 10-year-old Tawny Porto
1/2 ounce Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy pineapple rum
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
2 dashes Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything by the mint. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the mint. Enjoy.
September 2, 2016
Not too many weeks ago here on the Spiked Punch, I talked about making a swell drink with golden-hued Tio Pepe Fino sherry. That drink was the Gleanbriar, and if you missed it, well, go back and check it out. Neat, right? But sherry, being a lower-alcohol, not too heavy, really, the opposite of heavy, sort-of a ballet dancing booze in a way, is so nice in summertime that I wasn’t going to have just that one drink. Oh, no! My momma didn’t raise no fools. So, I’ve also been delving into other sherry drinks, including the easy-and-classic-y Sherry and Tonic. What a perfect summer fix. Have one today, trust me. Easy, tasty, summer-y, sherry.
Sherry and Tonic
2 ounces Tio Pepe Fino sherry
4 ounces tonic (I used Seattle-made Bradley’s tonic cause it’s great)
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a highball, Old Fashioned, brandy snifter (I sorta like this idea), or other glass about half way (depending on glass) with ice cubes.
2. Add the sherry and tonic. Stir lightly, but seriously.
3. Garnish with the twisty twist.
August 19, 2016
The name of this drink sounds a bit like a dance move beloved by those who tend to wear mostly black, listen to moody tunes, and shake their fist at all and sundry (I’ll admit to that phase at once point, so I’m not judging here, oh no). But, it’s in reality nearly the opposite, a blended drink that’s really not all that bitter, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone who drinks it.
Where, then, does the name come from? Well, the wonderful Fernet-Branca, of course! Here’s the scoop. Not long ago a bottle of that essential elixir showed up in the mail (I know, I couldn’t believe my luck either), with a little bit of a challenge – come up with a blended Fernet-Branca drink. At first, this seemed like a conundrum, due to blended drinks being usually either extra fruity or extra frothy and Fernet-Branca shading heavily towards what some people call “bitter,” though I think that’s just one part of it, with the other being its magic mix of herbs and spices and such. But, you know what? It turns out that with the right aligning of other ingredients, Fernet-Branca plays perfectly in blended form, and provides a nice rich bedrock for an icy, creamy, frothy, summertime treat, one perfect for the hot weather. Those other ingredients here (I’m guessing there are many more possible permutations) include gin (I used Voyager, which is swell), whose juniper hints mingle well, and Bénédictine, whose sweet herbal goodness also mingles well. A little actual cream, a splash of simple syrup (it is a blended drink!), and loads of ice, and we have the Bitter Shake. Which may actually make you want to dance, but with joy, instead of with your head down, mumbling.
The Bitter Shake, for 2 (never drink a blender drink alone – that’s foolishness)
2 ounces Voyager gin
1 ounce Fernet-Branca
1 ounce Bénédictine
1-1/2 ounces heavy cream
1 ounce simple syrup
Ice cubes (you’ll want a lot, like a whole tray’s worth)
1. Add everything but the ice to a blender. Swirl a little.
2. Add the ice cubes. Blend well (I used a combo of ice crush and smoothie settings on my blender – you want it well combined, smooth, and frothy). Drink and chill out.
July 17, 2015
The Princess (created by my wife, Princess Nat) is one of my favorite summer drinks. It clicks all the hot weather boxes: super easy to make, super refreshing, super tasty. Just super. I suggest having one right now, if your locale has temperatures that have risen above, say, 75. Make a bunch, have some friends over, and kick up yer summertime heels. Just don’t forget the suntan lotion. Oh, wait, one thing! Originally, and usually, the Princess has raspberries, but as you’ll see in the below picture, today I’m making it with blueberries. Because they looked better than the raspberries! Hence the Princess B moniker. You can go either way and be assured of loving this drink. Trust me, friends, trust me.
The Princess B (using the recipe from Good Spirits)
1-1/2 ounces limoncello
5 or 6 fresh blueberries
Chilled club soda
1. Fill a Collins glass (or another glass – don’t sweat about it, just adjust the amount of limoncello if needed. You’ll know) three quarters full with ice cubes. Add the limoncello.
2. Fill the glass to about a half-inch from the top with the club soda. Add the fresh blueberries. Stir slowly, but with purpose. Don’t be afraid (actually you’re encouraged) to bust up the berries a little. You want to stir until every ingredient is well combined.
August 23, 2013
It was recently my mother’s 75th birthday (yay mom!), and she had quite the wing-ding to celebrate, with oodles of friends and family in attendance, and lots of delicious edibles, and some piano playing, and some singing, and some toasting. I also made drinks for everyone, and we went with a little Italian-styled, or at least Italian-touched, menu of three drinks. One of those was the Portofino, a drink I hadn’t had since putting together the recipes for Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. It ended up being the favorite of the evening, I think because, well, it’s a tasty drink, sure, but also because it’s such a fine, fine bubbly beauty for August, when the weather is hot. The Italian part of the drink comes out in the name (which is a small port city in Genoa), as well as the addition of Italian aperitif champion Aperol. The neat thing – I believe – is that the drink also has a dose of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup in it. That’s not only neat because it references the days when English sailors used to dock in the port city the drink’s named after, but also because the day before my mom’s 75th birthday party, I returned from a two-week sojourn in jolly old England, where Pimm’s, of course, is from.
2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
1 ounce Aperol
Chilled ginger ale
Orange wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a highball glass three quarters up with ice cubes. Add the Pimm’s and Aperol and stir briefly.
2. Fill the glass almost to the top with ginger ale. Stir again and garnish with the orange wedge.