Just a week ago, I had a drink, The Ciliegia (a sort-of cherry-Negroni-influenced sipper, if you missed it), which featured Oomrang Cherry eau di vie, or fruit brandy, which is delicious, and, today, I’m following it up with another drink featuring another delicious Oomrang fruit brandy, this time their Blueberry Geist – featuring it in this drink, The Blueberry Cobbler. Whew, that was quite a sentence! And the Oomrang brandies are quite good brandies! About this time last year, I was lucky enough to be able to write an article about Oomrang (there are two umlauts by the way, in the name, so imagine them there) for the sparklicious Sip magazine. I don’t think it’s online as it was for subscribers only, perhaps, but research it up, see what you can find. Abbreviated version: Oomrang is a distillery and winery outside of Stanwood WA, and is a remarkable place, where they make lovely wine utilizing lesser-known German grapes: Mueller-Thurgau, Siegerrebe, Kerner, and Sylvaner. They also make fruit brandies – the real stuff, not the sickly sweet things sometimes marketed under that name. They have two kinds, the more traditional eaux de vies (when I say “more traditional” I mean in like Europe, as we aren’t as used to them yet in the U.S. – sadly) and geists. Because I don’t want to rewrite the whole article here, I’ll just quickly say that in eaux de vie the fruit is fermented, distilled, and bottled quickly, whereas with geists first you macerate the fruit in alcohol for a fair amount of time – Oomrang uses an alcohol made from grapes, and macerates a month – then distill and bottle it. Both brandy versions are strong spirits that taste yummy. I find the geists a wee bit more fragrant featuring an orchard-late-in-season vibe and fruit scrumptiousness. Which – we’ve finally gotten around to it – goes swell in this here drink.
A drink which is part of the Cobbler family, a family tracing its liquid lineage back to the early 1800s, when the Sherry Cobbler kicked off and kicked into gear, and then it and the Cobbler famile gained international name recognition when ol’ Chucky Dickens (as I called him, you may be more formal and all him Charles Dickens) included the drink in one of my favs, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, in 1842. At one point, in 1888, bartender and writer Harry Johnson wrote “This drink is without doubt the most popular beverage in this country, with ladies as well as with gentlemen,” and though its popularity waned, the Cobbler is picking back up as more and more discover how swell it is for summer. Which leads us to the blueberry-rific Blueberry Cobbler, featuring Oomrang’s lush Blueberry Geist, a little simple, a little lemon (I feel Cobblers need both sweet and tang), a splash of soda (taking us off perhaps the super traditional Cobbler path, but it needed it, too, to me, especially when the sun’s high in the sky), and lots of crushed ice. It’s a summer hit, even if to get there you’ve now read a small novel.
1. Add the 10 blueberries, lemon juice, and simple to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Add ice cubes to about the halfway full point, then the Blueberry Geist. Shake.
3. Fill a wine glass (or goblet) up with crushed or cracked ice. Strain the mix through a fine strainer into the glass. Top with the soda, stir briefly. Add more ice if needed. Garnish with blueberries and mint.
This treat at first glance may not seem super June-y, if you just look at the first few ingredients: red wine, and the herbally Amaro Lucano (which, by the by, has been around since 1894 when cookie baker [!!] Pasquale Vena crafted it with a secret mix of herbs and spices, bitters and sweeters; it’s also been the house drink since 1900 of the House of Savoy if that floats your ice cubes). But look deeper, summertime drink seeker, and you will see that there is a bubbly helping of chilled club soda, along with made-here-in-WA (but even if you don’t live here, you should have a bottle) Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur, the embodiment of summer in a way (that way being traced to blackberries – very summery in my mind – and here said blackberries are grown on the same farm where the liqueur is made). There’s ice, too! Altogether, this is a drink that can, and will, and is to, be beloved in summer, but one with some underlining deep, rich, notes mingling with fruit and summer’s fanciful notions. A yummy one, you’ll see!
I gotta be straight with y’all. I tend to not be into flavored boozes – pre-flavored, that is. Too many taste, to me, like chemical-ized messes. Though, to flip flop, I can say that in our modern world of boozes, with more small, focused distillers using high-end and natural ingredients, there are more and more of these types of bottles that do taste better than in the dark days of yore. And, we are luckier for it. Speaking of lucky, I myself received a bottle in the mail (don’t be upset at me, just be happy for me) just the other day, Prairie Organic Cucumber vodka, and you know what? It’s darn delicious. The cucumber flavor is very natural in essence and personality, smooth, and not overwhelming, approachable and in a positive way, delicate. Nice (well, unless you don’t like cucumber). The base is Prairie’s normal vodka, made from organic corn from a co-op of Minnesota farmers. Also, nice! Their products are becoming more and more available, even in spots as remote as the one I’m typing from, Seattle W-A. Triple nice!
Prairie’s Cucumber vodka is just perfectly ideal for summer, too. And you know what, summer is (by the calendar at least – it may feel already here for some!) only days away. With this in my mind, I recently whipped up a tasty tall treat using said vodka, one that’s a mighty match or summer, easy to make (as you want in summer to reduce sweating), and sure to become a favorite under that bright summer sun: Cucumbers and Tonic. Seems simple, and it is. In it, I up the vodka’s cucumber quotient with a little fresh cucumber, and the rest is much as you’d think it. Go forth now, and enjoy that sunshine.
June 1st is not the first day of summer, according to any calendars I can find. However, in my mind, June is a part of summer, and that means the first day of June is also a part of summer (this is math, I believe), and so in some ways not on the calendar, today, the first of June, is the first day of summer. Best to celebrate the many sunny days full of sunshine and short shorts that are on the sunny horizon with this bubbly and fruity and rum-y drink. You wouldn’t want summer mad at you, right?
The Beach Bubble
2 ounces dark rum
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce mango juice
Chilled ginger ale
2 pineapple chunks for garnish
1. Fill a Collins glass or large goblet three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the rum and juices. Stir, but with respect for the beach’s mellow demeanor.
2. Fill the glass up with ginger ale. Stir, but again, mellow-ly.
3. Spear the pineapple chunks on a toothpick, and float them in the glass (watch out for that toothpick when drinking).
Suns out! You know what that means? Sunburns. Okay, it means other things, too, like summer drinks and summer fun and summer romance and summer reading-in-the-back-yard-with-one-of-those-drinks. But I do pick up sunburns pretty quickly, which is why I always have sunscreen with a good SPF (sun protection factor). And also why I always have a nice chill SPF, too. For the latter, I mean a Silver Port Fizz.
Jump back! I can hear you saying (you do say that, right?), and loudly, what do you mean drinking port in summer? Isn’t port a winter, or fall at least, drink that you have indoors after a meal, say, or with some tasty cheese? Sure, it is that, but now-a-days, port is actually showing up on a lot of summer sipping menus, too. It makes sense (I think, when you think about it), because port in its various forms does deliver a lot of flavor, and doesn’t weigh one down too heavily, so when mingled with the right ingredients, I believe it’s a natural for the days when the sun is high in the sky and the temperature is also rising. Lucky for me, a bottle of Sandeman Tawny Porto 10-year-old version, showed up in the mail the other day, so I could test the port theory I’m expounding.
And while making up a new summer-y drink with port being a main player is very, very attractive (I’ll probably do it soon!), I decided to start by putting port in as a player in a classically-minded mix, the fizz. I love a nice, simple fizz, and the frothier silver fizzes (though sometimes today you see the silver slipped out of the monikers, which is okay, but here it fit perfectly), which adds egg white. And that’s what I did here, and the result is ideal for August, refreshing, fun, and full of the Sandeman Tawny’s nutty, fruit, rich-bodied brilliance. Try it, and test the theory.
Not too many weeks in the past, I had a drink here on the Spiked Punch called Afternoon Leaves, featuring Four Leaf Spirits’ Liath Earl Grey tea-infused gin and mentioned they also make rums as the Puget Sound Rum Company (and that they donate a portion of proceeds to cancer research and education-focused non-profits). Because I didn’t want to make the rums jealous, I wanted to have a drink with one of them as well – and decided I’d go with a classical influence. Or, at least, a summer favorite from days of yore. Yore here meaning 1947, and the influencer being a drink from tiki hero Trader Vic called The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
As you might expect, this is traditionally made with some tropical rum, but I think Puget Sound Rum Company’s Amber Rum 47 (47 because it was made at the 47th parallel), distilled in a Jamaican-style pot still from Colombian organic unrefined cane sugar and aged for a year in ex-bourbon barrels, works wonderfully, thanks to its caramel and vanilla notes. See, those blend (well, they’re neighbors, so it makes sense) smashingly with the drink’s other ingredients. Starting with Lucky Falernum, which comes from broVo Spirits (a distillery that’s also in Woodinville, just like the Puget Sound Rum Company), and which is a high-proof falernum bursting with spice and fruit goodness, and then from there going into Cointreau and lime juice – though I go a little lighter on the lime than Trader Vic. Changing tastes and all that. I think he’d understand, once he had the first sip of this summer lovely! The Royal Woodinville Yacht Club
Not able to take a vacation this summer? Trapped at a desk while the noises from frolicking day-off-ers echo in your ears? Wishing for an escape, but the many mundane priorities stand like an annoying boss in the way? Well, here’s a thought – have the below bubbler and take a mini trip without leaving the house.
3 apple slices
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
4 ounces chilled brut Sekt or other sparkling wine
1. Place two of the apple slices, the orange juice, and the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the St-Germain and, using a long spoon, stir well.
3. Pour the chilled Sekt into the cocktail shaker. Using that same reliable spoon, stir briefly, being sure to bring up the fruit on the bottom when stirring.
4. Strain into a flute glass or cocktail glass (in this instance I like the way the latter breathes, but a flute’s more traditional). Garnish with the remaining apple slice, putting a little notch in it if needed for rim balancing.
There are times, when the Mercury’s rising and that big ol’ ball of heat in the sky is high overhead, when you want a classy drink, but one that isn’t too tough. A drink that has all kinds of flavor, but without involving any sweat (or little sweat) to make. A drink you could sip after a long day of work while the sun starts its long slow trip down westward, as well as during a family brunch on Sunday when you’re waking up slowly.
Well, this is that drink friend! It covers all those bases, though admittedly it might be best during the Italian aperitif hours, those beautiful moments before dinner (let’s say 5 to 7, though they can arrive a stitch earlier or later) when you want to have something a little effervescent and light, but still with character and taste. All those characteristics come together here with just two ingredients – and a lemon twist – starting with Mionetto Prosecco, specifically the DOC Treviso brut version (though all the Mionetto Proseccos, made since 1887, are worth tracking down). The Treviso brut is nice and dry and crisp, with apple and peach and flowers lingering on the tongue, along with a hint of honey.
Here, it’s mixed with another Italian number, the newest sibling of renowned Galliano (the L’Autentico golden liqueur in the memorable bottle), Galliano L’Aperitivo, just recently becoming available stateside. An amaro, or bitter, it boasts over 50 ingredients, including a bouquet of citrus – orange, bergamot, tangerine, grapefruit, others – and a mix of herbs and spices like cardamom. The flavor’s rich, with all those orange-y citrus notes, herbaliciousness, and a hint of bitter.
Together, these two Italian stalwarts come together beautifully – with lots of fruit flavor, but with a dryness that is swell in summer, when you want to keep the cloying nature of some drinks far away. The color is also rather amazing, adding another welcome touch.
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