April 10, 2015
This is one of those moments where I wonder about my own sanity. I woke up this morning, and thought, “I’ve never had the Bijou recipe on the ol’ Spiked Punch blog. And the Bijou is one of my all-time favorites, at least in the top 20, or 25, somewhere in that range for sure, and a drink I travel back to again and again because of its balance and herbal-spice-nice combination, and cause it’s called the Bijou for Bruce’s sake, and what am I doing not having it on the blog?” So, I thought all that, got up, and instantly made myself a Bijou. You should do the same.
Bijou, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz
1 -1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish (sometimes this is skipped, but I sorta like it)
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.
March 27, 2015
The Montmartre cocktail was possibly named for the neighborhood, which gets its name from the death and decapitation of a bishop, archdeacon, and priest in 1272. That’s heavy! But the drink itself is fairly light on its toes and on the tongue, while carrying a great balance of flavors. However, recently I made it but changed things up slightly, and it was even better than it has ever been throughout history. Ever. EVER! How? Well, first, I subbed in Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao for the traditional triple sec, and the slightly dry and more flavorful nature of the former was fantastic. I also changed the maraschino cherry in for a Rainer cherry right off the tree in my yard. But what may have helped most (this didn’t change the recipe, but certainly helped the flavor) was using Martin Miller gin, whose 10 botanical blend brings a great amount of friendly complexity to the layers of taste here. All together, this makes one of the best drinks I’ve had this week (or longer). I did, since I made changes, think I needed to change the name, at least a little. Hence, the Montmartre-y.
1-1/2 ounces Martin Miller gin
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
Rainer cherry, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the gin, vermouth, and orange curaçao. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
October 3, 2014
I feel bad for not being much of a fisherman. Well, not usually that bad, but when I come across a bottle of one of The Fat Trout Scotches, which have fish on the bottles and which are a line of “sportsman’s Scotches,” then I feel a little bad. Until I realize there’s no need for actually going to the trouble of fishing (I realize, fishing folk, that for many it’s no trouble at all – good for you, if you’re one of them), and that I can enjoy the Scotch and just tell fish stories. One time, I caught this great white shark . . .
Anywho, a bottle of the Fat Trout blended Scotch (there are also Lowland and Speyside single malt versions) showed up the other day, and led to all this fish musing. It’s a tasty blend, too, with hints of smoke and spice and grain all mingling together. A fine thing to have neat or on the rocks. But also a fine thing when put into a drink with other items. Example A: The Fat Fisherman. To follow up a fall theme (it being fall and all), I mixed the Fat Trout with a cider, Tieton’s Dry Hopped cider (from here in WA) to be exact, which is a fine fall drink. But it was missing something . . . until I added a healthy dollop of Yzaguirre red vermouth, a type of what most would think of as sweet vermouth. Coming from Spain, this vermouth has a snazzy herbalness and a dash of balsamic flavor that went perfectly with the Scotch and cider.
The Fat Fisherman
2 ounces Fat Trout blended Scotch
1 ounce Yzaguirre red vermouth
4 ounces Tieton Dry Hopped cider
Apple slice, for garnish
1. Add the Scotch and vermouth to a highball or comparable glass. Stir briefly.
2. Fill the glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Add the cider. Stir, carefully, working to bring the bottom stuff to the top and vice versa.
3. Garnish with the apple slice. Talk about fish.
July 25, 2014
Recently, I was browsing again through Applegreen’s Bar Book, a book sized to fit in your vest or shirt pocket, by a guy named John Applegreen, printed first in 1899. I’ve gone through it many times before, but like a lot of old bar books, I still love looking it over. And sometimes I find gems I missed or didn’t make before. The McCutcheon Cocktail is one of those very gems.
It’s a gin-based drink, and I decided to go with G’Vine’s Floraison gin, which is a small batch gin made in the Cognac region of France, and crafted from neutral spirits distilled from grapes. The juniper is there, but subtle, and mingling with a strong grape-ness (in a good way) and other floral notes leading into spices (chamomile and ginger and a few more). It’s has enough going on that it can play well with other herbal mixers (though really, try it solo, too), which is why it seemed – and is – an ideal gin for this unburied treasure of a cocktail, a cocktail which also contain both dry and sweet vermouth (I went with Dolin for the dry, and Carpano for the sweet) and a bit of maraschino and orange bitters. I went with Scrappy’s on the bitters, in a local shout out. It’s a beauty of a drink, and here’s a toast for Mr. Applegreen for introducing me to it, at whatever afterlife bar he’s shaking and stirring at.
1-1/2 ounces G’Vine Floraison gin
3/4 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
3/4 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1 dash maraschino liqueur
1 dash Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything (be careful on your dash of maraschino, you don’t want to go too heavy). Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Dream of the late 1800s, and France.
June 27, 2014
It may surprise no one to know that I’ve tried a fair number of the spirits and liqueurs and such that are available around the world. But still, there are many, many imbibables that I’ve yet to sample (so please, send me any you think I haven’t had. Hah!). Example A until recently was palinca, or pálinka, the fruit brandy made in the Carpathian Basin and thereabouts. I hadn’t even heard about it until my Romanian pal George (who I work with remotely at a giant video game company, but don’t hold that against us) was visiting Seattle and brought a bottle. It wasn’t earmarked for me, at first, but I quickly convinced him that I should go home with it, and he eventually agreed – he also told it was very dangerous stuff and super strong.
After tasting it, I certainly agree with the latter, but not the former. The version he gave me, Palinca de Maramures, or palinca made from plums or prunes, has a kick, no doubt, but also a nice fruit undertone, with a tiny hint of nuts. He also told me that I could never come up with a cocktail using it – this, of course, was a challenge I couldn’t back down from. So, I invented The Ivanel, named after George. I mellowed out the umph of the palinca and added some layers of flavor with a little Cocchi di Torino (a lovely sweet vermouth) and the unbeatable Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao. The end result was good enough that I expect George to come back soon to try it.
1-1/2 ounces Palinca de Maramures
1 ounce Cocchi di Torino vermouth
1/2 ounce Pierre Ferrand orange curaçao
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the wide orange twist and a salute to Romania.
March 7, 2014
I can’t lie to you, dear readers, so I’m going to admit that I’m not much of a golfer – outside of mini golf, which I do like if it’s one of those courses that has castles and stuff. But, my lack of skills on the links doesn’t keep me from enjoying a classic cocktail named after golfing – oh no, not at all. For example, I recently made the delicious (but sadly not well known) Hole in One Cocktail. However, I used Peychaud’s bitters, for kicks, instead of the traditional orange bitters, and so altered the title. The end result was super tasty, thanks in large part to using Cutty Sark’s new Prohibition Edition blended Scotch. This Scotch has got loads of lovely toffee-and-pepper flavor, with a super smooth and warm (it’s 100 proof) finish, and it mixed dandily with the sweet vermouth and such below.
2 ounces Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition scotch
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the scotch, vermouth, lemon juice, and bitters. Shake well, while thinking about the proper place to use a 3 iron.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
PS: This photo was taken at Jeremy Holt’s house. He’s a good one to golf and drink with.
December 13, 2013
Recently, an old pal-of-mine name of Eric Norris, poet-writer-reader-library-man-deadeye-shooter-guy (he sounds like a detective in a way – I hope that on his rare down hours he is solving crime where he lives in lovely Hays, KS), dropped me a note asking about a coffee drink idea. He’s a swell fella, and I’m guessing an early riser, so I understood his need for a cocktail that tastes good and operates as a pick-you-up. Cause I believe in choices, I actually came up with two coffee drink ideas, the below, and one that I’ll roll out in a week. This one has a good espresso boom but also some nice herbally action via the sweet vermouth and Bénédictine. Oh, and some gin, cause gin is nice in any morning.
Hays at 6 AM
1-3/4 ounces gin
1/2 ounce chilled espresso
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
3 coffee beans, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the beans. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with 3 coffee beans.
November 8, 2013
Sometimes, a drink name says it all. In this case: Perfect. Does that mean I think this is the perfect cocktail, always and for every situation and second? Nah. But I do think it carries a kind of perfection, and for those days when you feel neither 100% sweet or dry, it certainly matches the mood. For those reasons, and during those seasons, sure, this one’s vermouth balance does indeed equal the name: Perfect.
Perfect Cocktail (recipe from Good Spirits)
Ice cubes 1-1/2 ounces gin (Voyager gin is pretty swell here)
3/4 ounce dry vermouth (might as well double up and go Dolin for both vermouths)
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
Orange or lemon slice for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add the gin first, and then the vermouths. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with either an orange or lemon slice (I’ve seen it both ways, and go depending on my mood).