October 9, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Rob Roy

As the air chills and winter phantoms start to haunt the hills (rhyme!) our (mine! yours! everybodies!) tastes begin to turn away from lighter things to alight onto more serious matters. In this case, to take away the high-flaunting language, I’m try to say that brown cocktail season is upon us, or nearly so (though, admittedly, I’m all for hanging on to sunlit days a little longer, and, really, I’m happy to drink whiskey or brandy or other darker-spirited cocktails anytime, but let me go with this). Which means dust off the Scotch, bourbon, Irish, Indian, Japanese, Washington, and other whiskeys – it’s time to warm up from the inside out. Starting with one of my favorite tipples in this vein, the Scotch-y/single-malt-y Rob Roy. It’s absolutely ideal for when the temperature gauge begins to plummet, with a hearty dollop of the base spirit (Scotch, that is) combined with the herbally loveliness that is sweet/red/Italian vermouth, Angostura bitters, and a waft of lemon. Ah, what a treat, not only in my mind. The creatures see of flood and field / And those that travel on the wind (thanks Wordsworth)! For the Scotch here, I’m going with Auchentoshan 12-year-old Scotch, partially cause I had a bottle on the front of my shelves, but moreso cause its smoothness and vanilla/citrus/nutty notes go so well with our other ingredients, especially to me with Carpano Antica, which I’m using for the vermouth and which I love due to its rich, lush, herbal goodness. Dive on in! Oh, wait, before you don your face paint and start drinking, here’s one fun idea: switch Angostura bitters for Scrappy’s Orange bitters, and sip a Highland Cocktail. Or have both!

rob-roy

The Rob Roy

 

Cracked ice

2-1/2 ounces Auchentoshan 12-year-old Scotch

1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Lemon twist, for garnish

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the Scotch, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

PS: The Rob Roy bar in Seattle is one of the best bars in the world, and probably even more memorable than this drink. Just wanted to make sure you knew.

May 8, 2020

What I’m Drinking: The Tipperary Cocktail with McConnell’s Irish Whisky

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, great drinks are even greater with a good story – and a great story takes it to even another level. Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of McConnell’s Irish Whisky in the post (what a nice thing! Especially in these stay-at-home times! So, don’t be jealous, I’ll share). And what a great story to go along with such a dandy whisky. Here are the basics – McConnell’s started producing whisky way way back in 1776, a year famous here in the U.S. for things other than whisky, though I’m sure a lot was consumed here at that time, too, hahaha. The whisky was made in Belfast, but soon being sipped all over the world by discerning sippers. But then! Tragedy, in the form of a vast fire that destroyed (so sadly) 500,000 gallons of whisky and a chunk of the distillery itself. Persevering, they rebuilt, and whisky flowed. But then! Tragedy, again, in the form of prohibition, which really put the damper on long-distance imports to the U.S., a monster-sized consumer – and that sad event destroyed the distillery, like the fire, but worse. Until this year, when it rose the economic and literal ashes, like a tipsy phoenix.

 

Of course, a good story like that (and distilleries coming alive and alive again are good, good stories) doesn’t mean as much if the flavor doesn’t rise to the tale. McConnell’s is a swell tipple, however, so the tale is ripe for more telling. A blended whisky, it’s aged five years in American oak, and as other friendly Irish whiskys, it has an approachable (not annoying) sweet nature. Beyond the lovely bottle, it sets itself apart thanks to a singular vanilla, nutmeg, spice and hint-of-smokiness taste. Yummy. So yummy, you could be forgiven for only consuming this recovered-from-history hit solo, or with a splash of water, or maybe a cube or two of ice as the mood descends on your day. Heck, I drank a lot of it that way myself, and only felt happy about it.

 

However! I also just can’t resist combining spirits and liqueurs I like into cocktails – and the welcoming, flavorful nature of McConnell’s is a bountiful base for a cocktail that lets it shine, while introducing a few friends that can stand alongside proudly. Today, I went with the classic, if not super-widely known, Tipperary. This version (there’s a separate cocktail carrying the same name from a few years earlier) goes back I believe to the 1922s, if memory serves, but don’t take me to task on it if I’m confused. To go with our mighty McConnell’s, the drink brings another legend to the mix, herbally, mystical, Green Chartreuse, along with sweet vermouth – I’m going with Punt e’ Mes here, which is just a touch drier than some, while still delivering more lush herbal notes , alongside a gentle bitter. Altogether, this cocktail delivers amazingly. I mean, it’s amazingly delicious. So, so, delicious, and just the right one for celebrating McConnell’s coming back on the booze scene.

tipperary

The Tipperary Cocktail

 

Cracked ice

1-3/4 ounces McConnell’s Irish whisky

1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse

3/4 ounce Punt e’ Mes sweet vermouth

 

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

 

2. Strain into a cocktail glass.

 

A Note: I’ve seen this with a lemon twist as garnish (heck, I’ve even had a great one that way), but with this particular trio, I didn’t think the brighter citrus notes worked. But if you do, do.

January 17, 2020

What I’m Drinking: Football Punch

Yes! Football is happening. Important professional football. Football, football, football! And, it’s nearing the time when football isn’t happening (oh, btw as the texters txt, here I am referring solely to USA-style football, and not the football played around everywhere else in the world. Though that kind of football is most-likely happening, too, in some form, which I admit, and if you are watching the original football, and want to have this delicious drink with a passel of pals, that would be amazing and you would be able to say “score!” loudly when drinking, too), so if you haven’t yet had your football punch yet this professional football season, well, rah-rah-rah-ers, now is the time for you to have it! With a team of friends – though perhaps not as big a team as a full professional football team, unless you can make multiple batches, that is, in which case, do that – cause this is a drink scaled for more than just one. And it’s so awfully tasty, that even if – and I do hope with every pigskin inch, whatever that means, that this isn’t the case – your team of choice isn’t playing anymore, having bowed out already in ignominy, you will still be able to smile after sipping. If not the first glass, at least the second. Let the football-ing and Football Punch-ing commence!

 football-punch

Football Punch, recipe from Dark Spirits

 

Ice cubes

One 750-milliliter bottle dark rum

16 ounces apple juice

10 ounces sweet vermouth

5 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

Two 25.4-ounce bottles chilled sparkling apple cider

2 apples, cored and sliced

 

1. Fill a large punch bowl halfway full with ice cubes. Add the rum, apple juice, vermouth, lemon juice, and orange juice. Stir with a pennant from your team of choice.

 

2. Add the sparkling apple cider, but in a sustained drive, not in a sprint (meaning, slow and steady wins this game), and the apple slices. Stir well. Serve in punch glasses, mugs, or little plastic footballs.

 

August 31, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Bijou

A swell drink as we slowly shift away from the height of summer into the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the Bijou, as legends have it, was originally created by the legendary Harry Johnson in the late 1800s, with a recipe printed in his New and Improved Bartender Manual from 1900. But I first found it in The Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe (published first in 1946). The name comes from the jewel definition of Bijou, as the drink has three ingredients aligning with jewels: gin and diamond, sweet vermouth and ruby, and Green Chartreuse and emeralds. Pretty!

bijou
Bijou, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz

Cracked ice
1 -1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, Chartreuse, and vermouth. Stir well.

2. Strain the mixture into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in.

August 3, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Americano

The Americano is a summertime favorite around my back porch, and should be one around yours, too. It’s been consumed as a warm-weather aperitivo for well over a hundred years, tracing its history back to at least 1860, and is a snap to make (you don’t want to be sweating drink-construction too much when the heat is on). Also, if you’ve been dreaming of a vacation, but just haven’t been able to take one yet, this can help transport you to Italy, in your mind, at least. Which is better than nothing!

americanoThe Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)

Ice cubes
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Chilled club soda
Orange slice, for garnish

1. Fill a highball glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir gently.

2. Add club soda to the glass until the glass is almost full. Garnish with an orange slice.

April 27, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Foregone Conclusion

I can’t really tell you anything about the creation of this drink – what to led to it at least. It’s a secret, in a way, and in another way, I just can’t remember. This is a big drink! And one that’s interesting, in yet another way (a third way?), in that it marries wine and rum, yet I didn’t think of it for Wine Cocktails, instead thought of it for a pal o’ mine . . . but wait, I can’t tell you about that. In a way (fourth way), it almost feels this could be a wonderful winter warmer, in a mulled wine way (fifth). Especially because it also has a coffee component, which goes well with warming liquids, but gives it a way (the sixth way) into being a morning drink, too. Though I like it best served cold, after dinner, where it’s deep, dark, nature would go well in our seventh way, with chocolate. Hence the reason it’s called what it’s called, instead of the honestly-makes-more-sense “seventh way.”

foregone-conclusion
The Foregone Conclusion

Ice cubes
3 ounces Cesari Sangiovese Riserva or another intense full-bodied red wine
1-1/2 ounces dark rum
1 ounce Galliano Ristretto or other tasty coffee liqueur
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a goblet or wine glass. Or two, if you feel like sharing – this is a good-sized drink, and sharing might not be bad.

April 6, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Hugs and Sand

This is based, as you can probably guess from the name, on the classic Scotch cocktail the Blood and Sand. To make it more huggy (not that the original isn’t huggy, mind you), I switched up said Scotch with local (for those of us living in Seattle, WA, that is, though really, hopefully, wherever you are you can track this down, too) Captive Spirits’ Peat Barreled Big Gin (PBBG). Rested or aged or finished as you will in casks that once held also-local Westland’s Peated American single malt whiskey, the PBBG has a swell juniper, orange, smoke, pepper, spice, and northwest-y nature that goes like a cuddly cuddle here. Try it, and then give me a hug if you like it (if you feel that’s too weird, a high-five is good, too). If making in summer, you may want to have it over the rocks instead of up. If it’s real hot, that is.

hugs-and-sand
Hugs and Sand

Ice cubes
1-1/2 ounce Captive Spirits’ Peat Barreled Big Gin
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes Italian vermouth
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.

2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass.

January 5, 2018

What I’m Drinking: In The Treetops with Delamain L’Aigle XO Cognac

It’s a smidge odd to say about one of the world’s revered sippers, but Cognac (especially in the states, I suppose) gets a little short shrift. Especially when it comes to cocktails. But consider this, friends – Cognac was a key player in the early days of cocktailing, and used as the base spirit in many classic drinks (the Sazerac, for one, but also a bunch of others), including ones that shifted for one reason or another to a different base. Both the shifts and the lack of Cognac-ing in modern cocktails is a shame, because the layers of flavors that unfold in good Cognacs when paired with the right pals make memorable drinks.

Let’s take this one, In The Treetops, for example! I was lucky enough (don’t curse me for it, especially not this early in the year) to receive a bottle of L’Aigle de Delamain XO Grande Champagne Cognac recently. The Eagle (L’Aigle equals The Eagle) is a delicious Cognac, aged in Limousin oak casks near the Charente River, and one that can be – and maybe should be! – savored solo, thanks to its bold-yet-graceful and complex-yet-approachable nature. It delivers floral and citrus essences on the nose, with a few nutty notes, too, and even more lush orange and fruit with a little chocolate and nuttiness in the unfolding flavor. It’s really as good as you’d expect from Delamain, who, if you don’t know, have been making renowned Cognacs since, oh, the 1600s. Or thereabouts!

When deciding to mix a cocktail with a Cognac this swell, I think keeping it fairly simple, letting the Cognac shine, adding only a few others players, is the way to go. I first thought I’d go with a drink from another lesser-known classic, Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion (from the early 1940s), a drink called Rock a Bye Baby. And, admittedly, which you might guess from the title of this cocktail (if you know your nursery rhymes), I didn’t stray far from the original. I kept the same ingredients, Cognac (well, Crosby used brandy), sweet vermouth (I used Martini Gran Lusso Italian vermouth, 150th anniversary edition, made from Barbera and oak-aged Moscato, and with lovely fruit tones and a smidge of sweetness), and Bénédictine. But Crosby (who will forgive me I’m sure), had equal parts Cognac and sweet vermouth, and less Bénédictine. I wanted to let Delamain’s L’Aigle fly higher, so boosted the Cognac, drifted down the sweet vermouth, and upper the Bénédictine some to herbal-ize the edges more. The end result is a layered, sophisticated-in-the-best-way, cocktail, one that is a special treat, sure, but don’t you deserve to be treated? I think you do.

from-the-treetops
In The Treetops

Cracked ice
2 ounces L’Aigle de Delamain XO Grande Champagne Cognac
1 ounce Martini & Rossi Gran Lusso Italian vermouth
1/2 ounce Bénédictine

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy life’s momentary luxuries.

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