November 8, 2013

What I’m Drinking: Perfect

perfect2Sometimes, 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).

April 12, 2013

What I’m Drinking: The Trocadero

Sometimes, you can’t improve on genius. You can try, sure, but, well, you’ll fail. Which is why instead of writing some new post about the Trocadero, I’m just going to quote myself, from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz:

We think often of dry and sweet vermouth of being like Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier fighting it relentlessly in Zaire, or like two large dogs gnawing on one big bone in the backyard (the bone here would equal a bar, if you don’t mind following a thinly stretched metaphor). This train of thought though, is out of wack. We should think of the vermouths more like A.J. and Rick Simon, brother detectives who are very different in style, dress, and tone of voice, but working together to solve a crime (the crime here is, as you might guess, the crime of a bad drink).

The Trocadero

Cracked ice

1-1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1-1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

1 dash orange bitters

1/4 ounce grenadine (I suggest making your own – there’s a recipe in the book by the by)

Lemon twist for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the vermouths at the same time to show no favoritism, and then the bitters and the grenadine. Stir well.

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

PS: Sure, I just called my own writing genius. But I was being silly, silly.

February 1, 2013

What I’m Drinking: The Rob Roy

I’m not sure if it’s January’s gloom (we’re aching for sun here in Seattle – please send us some if you live anywhere it’s sunny. Please), my continually growing love of Scotch, or the fact that I like people with accents, but I’ve been on a bit of a Rob Roy jag lately. And, funny enough, I’ve been having them mainly at the bar that shares the same name (the Rob Roy, in case you’re feeling a bit slow today). But I’ve had a couple at home, too, using the recipe from Dark Spirits. In honor of that book-I-wrote, I wanna actually quote from it, because I’m self-referential sure, but mainly because I can’t believe the fine folks at Harvard Common Press let me get away with having this in a headnote:

Remember what Fandral said in the Marvel Spotlight on Warriors Three (Marvel Spotlight Issue 30, 1976) to the guy who bugged him when he was drinking a Rob Roy (at least I think he was), “Churl! Hast thou no manners? Never interrupt a man whilst he is drinking!” In the last part of that quote “a Rob Roy” is only implied, but don’t miss the point.

The Rob Roy

Ice cubes

2-1/2 ounces Scotch

1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Scotch, vermouth, and bitters. Shake thee well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist. Methinks you’ll be happier for it.

A Variation: Wanna take a wee trek away from the Rob Roy? Switch Angostura for orange bitters, and skip to a Highland Cocktail.

July 5, 2011

The Oriental Cocktail and the Good Life

It’s July, so I’m not going to lie (really, I just wanted to make that rhyme. No, wait, really, I’m not lying. Really)—I have a strong affection for not only the Oriental Cocktail (a beaut of an unburied treasure utilizing a party power pack: rye, sweet vermouth, orange curaçao, and lime juice) but for pretty much all cocktails that come with a good story. Want to learn more? Check out this short-but-swell article on the Oriental Cocktail I wrote that was recently in a special summer cocktail e-issue of the Good Life Report (the article does have the full recipe, too—if you’re thirsty). If you don’t know about the Good Life Report, and yet feel you are someone who does, indeed, want a good life, then, well, sign up for gosh sakes.


PS: I almost forgot–that article also talks about Mark Butler’s genius drink the Occidental, too! How can you miss it?

June 29, 2011

What I’m Drinking: Sbagliato

I love this bubbly-and-bitter-belle-of-the-ball. First, it’s a variation on the Negroni (which is, of course, a fav) that subs in Prosecco for gin. Second, I originally had it and heard about it when staying in Florence at a spot called the Hotel Casci (not far from the Duomo, don’t you know), and pal Jeremy was there as well (we were drinking and playing Quiddler after a day of touristing). Third, it means “wrong” due to its Negroni-less-ness, if that makes sense, and I think having a drink called “wrong” is genius. Fourth, well, it tastes great–can’t go wrong with Campari, sweet vermouth, and Prosecco. Fifth, it (like La Rana D’Oro below) was a featured drink at a recent charity event that I slung drinks at (for my ma, if you didn’t know). Sixth, it’s also featured in my book Champagne Cocktails (which, if you don’t have, please buy, cause I need to be able to buy more sparkling wine). And seventh, well, seventh just adds up all the earlier six reasons to expand my love of this drink to epic–epic–proportions.



Serves 2


Ice cubes

3 ounces sweet vermouth

3 ounces Campari

Chilled Prosecco

2 orange twists, for garnish


1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the vermouth and Campari. Shake well.


2. Strain the mixture equally into two flute glasses. Top with Prosecco and garnish with the orange twists.


A Variation: You could use the Italian sparkling wine Moscato d’Asti or Asti Spumante here and be happy about it.


A Second Note: I could see the rationale behind serving this in a cocktail glass in the Negroni’s honor. I could also see the rationale behind calling this a sparkling Americano. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to do either of them.

December 17, 2010

What I’m Drinking: Punt e Mes Highball

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: most times (that makes it sound sort folksy), most times I say, the simple things are the finest. Example A: I picked up a bottle of Punt e Mes (you probably know this, but it’s a particular Italian vermouth, fragrant and citrus and herbal in action) at one of my local stores here in Italy recently, and instead of getting all jiggy with it, poured it simple over ice, and then topped it with ginger ale (the Conad, which is a line of stores here, house brand, which is quite dandy, dry and ginger-tastic). An orange slice might have made it better, but you know what? It was a fine aperitif even without said slice. And so simple. You should make one yourself. Right now:

Ice cubes

1-1/2 ounces Punt e Mes

3 ounces ginger ale


1. Fill a highball glass three-quarter-ish up with ice cubes. Add the Punt e Mes. Top with the ginger ale. Stir. Be happy for simple things.


February 3, 2009

What I’m Drinking Right Now: The Sweet Dreams

Get ready for some Valentine’s Day hugging, kissing, and drinking (you don’t really want to have a Valentine over for a little romance without the right drink, right? I mean, you aren’t that caddish, are you? And, speaking of “caddish” is that a phrase that applies to both ladies and gentlemen? Or is a “cad” only a dude? Cause I in no way want to imply that not serving a good drink on Valentine’s Day is okay if you’re female. It’s bad no matter what. So, put that in your shaker and shake it) with this lovely mix (from Good Spirits, if you wanna relay a little information to your amorous other when serving up the cocktail). I used Washington State’s own Dry Fly gin when making it, and liked it lots, and also suggest using Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino cherries (from good ol’ WA as well), which are yummy and clean, sweetened with pure cane sugar instead of goopy high fructose junk, and which don’t contain artificial dross. Which of course you don’t want to serve up alongside the kisses. That’s just gross.


Ice cubes

1 1/2 ounce gin

3/4 ounce sweet vermouth

3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur

1/2 ounce simple syrup

Maraschino cherry for garnish


1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, sweet vermouth, and maraschino liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake well.


2. Add the cherry to a cocktail glass or pretty cordial. Strain the mix into the glass.

January 27, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Football Punch? And Some Quesadillas for that Matter?

Okay, I can admit it, I’m not the world’s most in-depth sports fan. I don’t have 10 fantasy leagues (or even one), and mostly I like Super Bowl parties because I see it as a day when I can eat as much cheese dip and snacks as I want to and not have anyone say “boo” about it. But darnit, even if you’re not an over-the-top sports fan, you should still be able to consume an above-average punch on the day of the big game. On any day, for that matter. And Football Punch is more than above average (it’s way, way, above, I tell ya), with a mingling of rum, sweet vermouth, and apples with a touch of orange and lemon. Just watch the effect it has on pals Jamie, Rob, Brett, Andy, and Bob in the below instructional video. And be sure to check out my socks. And then thank director and co-writer Dr. Gonzo for me by giving him another glass of punch.

 Though I usually stick to the boozing here on Spiked Punch, I also wanted to put up this new vid for Monterey Cremini Quesadillas (from the Party Snacks), cause I sure don’t want you to starve while sloshing back all the Football Punch. These tasty tidbits will make you hum. Or cheer. Or hum cheerfully. Or, at least, be amazed at how I can speed up and slow down time. Really.

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