June 5, 2020
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.
Cucumbers and Tonic
Two fresh cucumber rounds
1-1/2 ounce Prairie Organic Cucumber vodka
4 to 5 ounces tonic (I used Fever Tree and it worked a treat)
Cucumber spear for garnish
1. Add the cucumber rounds to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vodka. Shake well.
3. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the cuc and cuc vodka into the glass and over the ice.
4. Add the tonic to the glass (go a little stronger or lighter as desired with tonic), and stir well. Add the cucumber spear. Summer awaits.
June 1, 2018
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).
August 4, 2017
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.
2 ounces 10-year-old Sandeman Tawny Porto
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 egg white
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Porto, juice, sugar and egg white.
2. Fill a Collins or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix into the glass.
3. Fill glass with club soda. Stir briefly. Chill out.
July 28, 2017
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
2 ounces Puget Sound Rum Company Amber Rum 47
1/2 ounce broVo Lucky Falernum
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything.
2. Give the Club a good shake, but not so much that it makes you sweat. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Raise cheers in a Woodinville direction.
July 21, 2017
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.
The Temporary Getaway, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
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.
July 14, 2017
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.
3/4 ounce Galliano L’Aperitivo
4 ounces chilled Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso brut
Lemon twist, for garnish
Ice cube, if wanted
1. Add the L’Aperitivo to a flute or comparable glass. Top with the prosecco.
2. Carefully stir in a manner that brings everything together without being wacky. If your prosecco isn’t really chilled, or if it’s extra hot out, add an ice cube.
3. Garnish with the twist. Give a toast to the sun, and to Italy.
July 7, 2017
Summertime, summertime, sum sum rummertime. You see what I did there? I put “rum” in for “sum” at the end, because summertime is, actually, rum time (though admittedly, I think nearly every spirit could be used in a joyous hotter-weather drink if done right. However, historically, rum fits the bill perfectly, and so my song makes sense and the right level of silliness is reached). And this concoction uses a rum that was new to me, but one I’m super glad showed up in the mail.
That rum? Bayou Silver rum, from Louisiana, which is made from raw, unrefined cane sugar and molasses from Patoutville, LA – that’s all local action, which is great. It’s also made with triple filtered fresh water, and distilled in a traditional pot still outside of Lake Charles, and has a lovely gator on the bottle. Again — great. The flavor has a slight sweetness and tropical fruit notes, while maintaining an underlying strength that stands up in cocktails. It’s also won oodles of awards, if that does it for you. Also, great!
Here, I’m matching it up with another summer favorite – fresh raspberries. While they aren’t tropical per se, that raspberry zing and tang goes with the Bayou like summer goes with short shorts. To round it out, a little smidge of fresh line pizzazz, and – because fruit is a kick – a bit of Morey Narancello orange liqueur, which is made in Spain and delivers more orange flavor and citrus, and another cuddle of sweetness. The end result is a summer drink worth singing about.
The Alligator’s Orchard, Serves 2
8 good-sized fresh raspberries
4 ounces Bayou Silver rum
1/4 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 ounce Morey Narancello orange liqueur
1. Add the raspberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, lime juice, and Narancello. Shake really well.
3. Strain through a fine strainer into two cocktail glasses – because when it’s sunny outside, you may be in the midst of a summer romance, which means two drinks are needed
July 5, 2016
Recently had a chance to ask some awesome (well, that list is super-duper long – I love me some shakers here, but all these folks happened to be both neat and within recent earshot) Seattle bartenders about what they think re: summer drinks and drinking, with a whole ton of suggestions, all rounded up in a mighty Seattle magazine summer drinking interview post, which you, being someone who likes to drink in summer I’m guessing, should read right now.