January 13, 2017
Here’s a super cool knowledge nugget I would like to drop on you. There’s a company that’s dedicated to producing Scotches that are modern interpretations of long-lost whisky. They are reincarnating, as they coin the phrase, in a delicious manner, these Scotches. See, many distilleries had to close during the century previous to this one, due to things like prohibition, globalization, and other economic issues, and the founders of The Lost Distillery company decided that it would be tragic (and I agree!) for the whisky those distilleries were making to be lost forever. Now, they’re re-making the whisky, using blends, with a range that travels all five Scottish whisky regions. That’s super cool, right!
I recently was able to taste their Benachie Scotch, which is called Jericho in other spots in the world, and which is based on whiskey made from the distillery of the same name, a Highland distillery that ran from 1824-1913 near the town of Insch (go read the full story). It’s a friendly dram, with an approachable malty, peaty nose that has a hint of sweetness, and a flavor that’s oaky and nutty, with some fruit accents and accommodating pepper and spice. A fine Scotch to bring back to life! And one I couldn’t resist using in a lesser-known number from days of yore called the Mickie Walker.
The Mickie Walker
1-1/2 ounces The Lost Distillery Benachie Scotch
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/8 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 ounce homemade grenadine
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Don’t get lost while drinking.
January 6, 2017
Still thinking about what that perfect resolution for 2017 might be? Wavering between tired old standbys like losing weight, writing letters, wearing cooler socks, and reading more? Okay, wait, those are all great – do all of those. But also, let me propose another righteous resolution. Drink more vermouth. Vermouth, so often relegated to a sidekick or less, is making I believe a comeback, or in-roads, in a more serious way in the U.S. of A. Get on the train now, before the train is out of the station with all the vermouth in it. And a terrific way to tot up your vermouth-ing is with this very cocktail, The Trocadero, which uses both dry and sweet vermouths. It was never so easy to hold to a resolution.
The Trocadero, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1-1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1-1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
1/4 ounce homemade grenadine
Lemon twist for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the vermouths, bitters, and grenadine. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
June 24, 2016
Sometimes, one gets cravings (I’m no fortune teller, but I’m seeing that in everyone’s future, they’ll get cravings, too), of all sorts, I suppose. Example A: the other day, I had a swell drink made with maraschino (the most misunderstood of all liqueurs, historically, or at least the last, let’s say, 40 years of history, because too many think it’s sickly like those sick twisted things that pass as maraschino cherries in mass market grocery stores, when it’s not, at all, instead being dry and a hint nutty, being made from the pits of the marasca cherries and all), and that swell drink made me crave more maraschino drinks. And so I went for the Sweet Pie, a cuddly classic-y number, where the always tasty and reliable Luxardo Maraschino shines alongside gin and sweet vermouth, and a smidge of simple syrup comes along for the ride to round the edges in a cuddly – as mentioned – manner. Dreamy deliciousness.
Sweetie Pie, from Good Spirits
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake well.
2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass or pretty cordial. Strain the mix into the glass.
PS: Sometimes this is garnished with a Maraschino cherry. But sometimes I want to skip the fruit. You go as you go.
June 17, 2016
This tequila champion takes its name from a quote from General Ignacio Zaragoza, who commanded the forces at the battle of Puebla (where he, in a massive upset, won the day, and that winning is what is celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, but just because that’s a fact, it doesn’t mean that you should only have this drink then. No, no, no! This drink is good anytime. Know that, and you can skip the whole upset thing, and just be happy). It uses the swell Corralejo Tequila Reposado as its base, a tequila crafted out of 100% blue agave, and then said tequila is aged in American oak for at least three months. The end result is a smooth agave-spice-caramel flavor that mingles dreamily with sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and a hint of citrus in this very drink.
The National Arms
1-1/2 ounces Corralejo Tequila Reposado
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the tequila, vermouth, juice, and bitters. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.
April 15, 2016
Some days, some nights, some mornings even, you just want a good drink, like you want to see an old friend, to just talk happily with, without getting all serious and pompous and braggy and posturing and . . . oh, all that stuff that old friends don’t usually do, but so many people do, sadly. The Negroni, now, of course is a superstar, with many variations that are boringly named (really – people, we don’t call the Negroni a Gin-icano, or a Gin Americano, etc, etc), and people all over-board and over-boorish about it. But to me it’s still comfortable like an old friend, and some days, like today, I just feel like sipping one, without all the accompanying sass.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Orange slice, or twist – go crazy
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the three amici. Stir well.
2. Fill an Old Fashioned or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix over the glass. Garnish away. Enjoy, yo.
PS: Some people serve a Negroni up. I wouldn’t turn that down. However, I often want it over ice, the way you’ll get it in the Italian countryside.
July 24, 2015
I decided I needed a break from summer cocktails – even though it’s still sweaty time here in Seattle. But even during these sweaty times, some days, darnit, I’m not feeling bubbly. Say it’s the job (it’s the job), or just the first song I listened to today, or that malaise that creeps in like weeds on even the most jolly of us (I am the most jolly), but even in cut-off wearing summer, there are days like this, days when you need something that’s packs more umph, and delivers a respite to the world and the woes. For me, today, it’s the Oriental.
If you haven’t heard me mention it before (as I’ve written about this drink in a couple spots), I originally found the Oriental in the classic Savoy Cocktail Book, and love the drink’s balance, underlying strength, and story. Which goes, as said in that same book, like this:
In August, 1924, an American engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines and only the extraordinary devotion of Doctor B. saved his life. As an act of gratitude, the engineer gave Doctor B. the recipe of this cocktail (the Oriental).
So, it’s a lifesaving drink – as well as a bad day saver. Get in front of a fan, forget about all the sunshine, laughter, and summertime kicks outside the window, and start sipping.
1-1/2 ounce rye (Woodinville’s nice)
3/4 ounces sweet vermouth (I used Punt e’ Mes)
3/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way full with cracked ice. Add everything. Shake well (as Rick reminds us in the comments below).
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass.
May 15, 2015
Friends, the weather is heating up. The ol’ Mercury is rising. The sunshine is taking over its annual spot as the meteorological top dog. The sweat is starting to tickle you just behind the ear (well, maybe it’s not that steamy yet, but you get the idea). And when that starts happening, I know one thing for sure. It’s Americano time!
Since 1860, when Gaspare Campari served it at his bar, calling it the Milano-Torino in honor of Campari (his bitter red liqueur from Milan) and Cinzano vermouth (from Turin), this has been a hot-weather hit. The name was changed thanks to the large number of visiting Americans (especially soldiers, at the time) who fell in the love with the drink. Being an American that visits Italy yearly, I love that story – as well as the drink.
The Americano (using the recipe from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz)
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.
May 1, 2015
Well, sometimes there’s nothing that needs to be said. The Manhattan. Damn right.
2-1/2 ounces bourbon (I used Woodinville Whiskey Bourbon. It’s great.)
1/2 ounce Punt e’ Mes sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters. Pause a moment, in honor of all the Manhattans drunk before yours. Then stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
A Note: I suggest Angostura bitters with a Manhattan, but if you’d like to experiment with Peychaud’s or an orange bitters, I surely wouldn’t caution against it. Though really, I wonder if that would then need a name change?
A Second Note: I used bourbon here, cause I was feeling it today. I know many of you like a rye Manhattan, and I do myself, too. I would probably switch the vermouth in that case.
A Third Note: Here’s a bar challenge to throw out when ordering Manhattans. Who know in what year the now-lost film “Manhattan Cocktail” was released? I believe only a 1-minute sequence from the film survives today, so this can be a bit of a doozy.