October 19, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Hero of the Fall

While not all of you live in wondrous WA, I don’t want you to feel I’m taunting you (you could come here and explore our distilleries, should even) by having a drink that features an ingredient you have to be here to pick up. C’mon over! And pick up a bottle of Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s 2018 Autumn Release, a Toasted Applewood Finished Rye. See, every year, the fine folks at Woodinville have an autumn release, and it’s quite an event – folks start lining up the day before to get a signed and number bottle in a commemorative wooden case. And, of course, to get the limited-edition whiskey within. This year’s takes the distillery’s 100% Rye Whiskey and adds toasted Applewood staves. Which brings out lovely apple notes mingling with the rye’s caramel and spices: cinnamon, clove, and more, all at 100 proof. It’s a great fall whiskey, and one that you might like to sit and sip solo – or with a few drops of water, or an ice cube, as the case may be – as the temperature chills.

But, it’s also a whiskey that can add beautiful background and flavor to a winter or fall cocktail, and recently I came up with a memorable one using it. For the first partner in this drink (again, don’t be upset those not living here – as you’re coming out for the rye, you can load up on a bunch of local lovelies), I went with another fall and winter favorite, Raft’s Cranberry Five Spice syrup. Raft products are made all-naturally in Portland, OR by the same folks who make the Bitter Housewife bitters and such. While “syrup” often equates with “sweet,” this one is only subtly sweet (and has no preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, or any of that nastiness), and leans more into tart, thanks to the addition of Starvation Alley (a farm in Long Beach, WA) cranberries. Beyond the cranberry, this delivers more holiday spices: ginger, star anise, cinnamon, cloves. It seemed the ideal match for the rye. And it was!

But we needed to invite some more friends to this fall party-in-a-glass, and I wanted to keep it local, and bring even more of those spice notes, and so added Italian-by-way-of-Seattle Letterpress Distillery’s Amaro Amarino. Carrying a little of that traditional amaro bitter, but also more baking spices and a hint of orange, it fit right in. Our final player is Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters, which underlines everything with a final herbal and spice touch. Altogether now! This is an ideal drink for before Thanksgiving or any fall or winter holiday, but perhaps an even better one for after the meal. When sipping it, it introduces itself with the whiskey festival of grain, oak, and the beginnings of the spice, transitioning into apple and fruit and more spice, and then finishing on a little tang from the cranberries and a kiss of sweetness from the syrup – with spices throughout. One to savor like a good meal, and one to savor with good friends.

hero-of-the-fallThe Hero of the Fall

Ice cubes
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Toasted Applewood Finished Rye
3/4 ounce Raft Cranberry 5 Spice Syrup
1/2 ounce Letterpress Amaro Amarino
2 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add all our northwest heroes. Shake well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the bounty.

September 21, 2018

What I’m Drinking: You, Sue, Are Delicious

Trends at times seem to come out of nowhere (probably because I am not as knowledgeable as I should be – I can admit that!), and one that has shown up in the last few years is various yuzu – the rough-skinned lemon-looking citrus fruit popular in Asian countries – items in cocktails. However, I hadn’t really found a yuzu-based ingredient that felt made for cocktails. Until this summer, the summer of 2018! When Sidetrack Distillery (the wondrous spot on a farm right outside Kent, WA here in WA) unveiled their new Yuzu Liqueur. Now, I know how good all of the Sidetrack Liqueurs are, made using fruit, produce, and other items grown on the Lazy River Farm where the distillery resides. So, I had high hopes for their Yuzu – and it delivers. Citrus-y in a way that straddles lemon, grapefruit, and little mandarin orange, it has orchard aromas for days, and then a rich taste that trails off with a bit of kick, balancing the liqueur’s sweetness. Great stuff and made locally to boot– but what to do with it?

Well, my first thought was a gin that has a whisper of citrus, and, you know what (I say humbly)? It was a very good thought. The gin I went for was Wildwood Spirits’ Kur gin, also made in wonderful W-A, with local wheat, jumping juniper, various other delights, and a bit of Seville oranges. Then, our drink didn’t need much more, just a hint of brightness and botanicals from some Dolin Blanc vermouth, and a little spice and some light undertones from another local, Scrappy’s Orange bitters. Altogether, a (as you’d guess from the title) delicious drink, one with a nice backbone and a full strata of delicate and more forward citrus and spice, a drink that’d be a fine pre-dinner, during-dinner, or post-dinner accompaniment.

you-sue-are-delicious
You, Sue, Are Delicious

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Wildwood Spirits Kur gin
1 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Yuzu liqueur
1/2 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange bitters
Wide lemon twist, for garnish

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Twist the twist over the glass and drop it in. Oh, be sure you’ve tasted that Yuzu liqueur on its own, too. Or you’ll be sorry.

September 14, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Pup In a Blanket

While we aren’t really into fall (theoretically, the season starts the 22nd), it still feels like we’re oozing into the time of year when bourbon is in the air. Here, in this drink, it’s the sea air, in a way, as the base we’re working with is a new release from Chambers Bay, a distillery here in Washington which ages their whiskey on a floating boathouse (on the Puget Sound, which eventually connects with the sea). The specific whiskey is Chambers Bay’s Straight Bourbon (I received some in the mail, lucky me), Batch #3, which was bottled in late July after being aged in oak barrels a minimum of 3-1/2 years. Due the boathouse movement, however, the aging process actually feels (tastes?) as if it was aged longer. They also make the bourbon with grains (corn, white wheat, barley) from Grant County, WA, and use a wild yeast from local orchards. What’s it all mean beyond the swell local-ness? A bourbon with lots of depth, and a flavor that’ll make you skip with happiness: caramel, and a little fig, nuttiness, oak, and other spices – plus a small hint of salt and sea air.

All of which equals a nice whiskey to sip, but also a nice one to mix with, especially with other spice treats. Here, I started the mingling with an award-winner: Raft Cardamom bitters (which was named 2018 Product of the Year by the Specialty Food Association), a great savory and spice bitters that’s going to add some depth and add to the pack of flavors we’re bringing together. One note: these bitters are also under the Bitter Housewife brand, but don’t get confused, it’s a sibling of Raft. It’s made in Portland, OR, by Genevieve Brazelton, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Portland, Oregon’s Improper Goods, the overall brand Raft and the Bitter Housewife live under, along with a great group of syrups, bitters and cocktail kits made with care. Yummy stuff.

But the bourbon and bitters aren’t’ the only yummy stuffs here. I wanted to keep building on the spice notes, and bring in some complimentary pals, too. Enter, one Italian-influenced local favorite, Sidetrack Distillery’s memorable and delicious green-walnut-based Nocino, and one favorite actually from Italy: the divine Meletti Anisette. These two have been parts of many drinks I’ve made due to their fantastic flavors – as well as being favorites when sipped solo. All together, this is a layered, memorable, fall drink that you’re sure to want to make for all your friends.

pup-in-a-blanket
Pup In A Blanket

Cracked Ice
2 ounces Chambers Bay Straight Bourbon (Batch #3)
3/4 ounces Sidetrack Nocino
1/4 ounce Meletti Anisette
2 dashes Raft Cardamom bitters

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Cuddle with the dog of your choice (without spilling your drink, naturally).

September 7, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Roll Out the Blackberries

Well, here we are, in September, with summer sadly retreating into its annual hibernation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t drag it out a little – after all, summer is both a state of mind and resides in many things. One of the main, for me, is blackberries, which always make me dream of summer no matter what time of year. But this time of year is perfect, because you can still get awesome summer-y blackberries and then use them in many ways – like in this drink! I got the ones used here at the lovely Lazy River Farm, on which is the awesome Sidetrack Distillery, one of my favorites in the state of WA. On the farm they grow the fruit and produce that Sidetrack uses in their liqueurs and brandies and such (it’s all the same fine folks doing the growing and distilling). And, my wife and I and some pals recently went out to pick some berries – and taste some delicious drinks – including blackberries.

Okay, enough pre-amble! On to the show – and by that I mean this drink. Wife Nat came up with this one, and it shows, as the drink is built on some of her favorites, including swell Sotol, the tequila neighbor made in Mexico from the Desert Spoon plant, and the slightly spicy and all-the-way luscious Ancho Reyes ancho chili liqueur. Perfect partners. Of course, as you’re expect from the above graph, it’s also built on blackberries, both fresh and in Sidetrack’s Blackberry liqueur, which deliver a rich, deep, berry taste. An intriguing combo, but one that goes well together, especially with a touch of lime. And now we have the Roll Out the Blackberries all rolled out.

roll-out-the-blackberriesRoll Out the Blackberries

6 fresh blackberries
Ice cubes
2 ounces Sotol
1 ounce Ancho Reyes ancho chili liqueur
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime wedge, for garnish

1. Add the blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.

2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything outside of the lime wedge. Shake really well.

3. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wedge. Remember, summer lives in you (with every sip).

August 28, 2018

Tea Up with Four Leaf Spirits

As you know (because I’ve told you) Washington State’s distillers are a dandy, creative, amazing bunch. They just keep putting out more and more tasty, imaginative, treats for drinkers here and there and everywhere. Case in point: I recently wrote about Four Leaf Spirits, a distillery based in Woodinville who makes tea-infused liqueurs and spirits, as well as rums under the Puget Sound Rum Company name. Want to learn more? Of course you do! Read the article cleverly-titled: How One Seattle Distillery Is Using Tea to Infuse Spirits and then start tracking down some bottles.

August 10, 2018

What I’m Drinking: The Puget Seine

The middle-to-beginning edge of August is a hot spot in many parts of the world – Seattle, my part at the moment, for example, is heated this time of year, though the temperatures might not seem so high to some, to me, they demand a refreshing tall drink with lots of ice. A cold cider cocktail, for example, isn’t a bad thing this time of year – actually, it’s a good thing! And, what luck, I just received some cidre in the mail. What’s that you say? I’m spelling wrongly? Well, friend, that’s just not true, because specifically I received some Louis Raison cidre – the cider master who popularized cider (French cidre) across France, the stories say.

In this cocktail, I use Original Crisp Louis Raison cidre, which is made from 100% French bittersweet apples. It’s a brightly-flavored, crisp, cider, with a fruity-but-not-to-sweet nature, and little honey and nuts on the nose, and an apple-y, woodsy, taste. I always like apples and ginger as a combo, so the first ingredient I decided to try with this cidre was Salish Sea’s Ginger liqueur. Made up this-a-way with all-organic ingredients, Salish Sea liqueurs are amazing, known for their creative and pure flavors, and the Ginger has the hottest (in a good spice way) and freshest ginger-y taste I’ve had in a liqueur. If you can’t make the trip up to WA to get some, then, well, I feel sad for you – it’s summer, take a vacation! You could try another ginger liqueur here. You won’t get the same ginger umph, but needs must – and use a little less, because most are sweeter than the Salish Sea.

But those two ingredients were just the beginning – or, the first two-thirds. I wanted a solid base (spirit, that is) as well, and after trying this and that, I came back to where I should have started, it being summer and all: rum. Specifically Flor de Caña Añejo Oro, a four-year-old gold-medal-winning amber rum with a lush, vanilla, nuttiness that teamed up like a summer dream with our other two champs. Altogether, our globe-trotting cider cocktail has fresh taste underlined by all sorts of spice currents. It’s ideal for August – or, really, anytime.

puget-seineThe Puget Seine

Cracked ice
1-1/2 ounces Flor de Caña Añejo Oro rum
3/4 ounce Salish Sea Ginger liqueur
Ice cubes
4 ounces Louis Raison Original Crisp cidre

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the rum and ginger liqueur. Stir.

2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters full with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 into the glass.

3. Top with the cidre, and stir to combine. Drink up!

July 13, 2018

What I’m Drinking: Such Animals of Summer

Why, just last week, here on the Spiked Punch blog, I had a delicious summer drink (if I can say that humbly) called Pina’s Potion, which used Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé – a bottle of which had shown up via the post. If you haven’t checked that recipe out, you’re in for a treat! Go read about rose cocktail Pina’s Potion now, to learn a bit more about Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé and to make your summer better.

Back? Yay! Well, I liked this rosé so much, that I wanted to go down another road with it, because the flavor profile gives lots of avenues one could travel, all different, like every animal is different. To prove this furry point, I give you another rosé cocktail, called Such Animals of Summer. A slightly different (as mentioned) mix, it mingles our rose with another summertime treat, Washington state-based Sidetrack Distillery’s Strawberry Liqueur (they grow the strawberries right on their farm! dreamy), and another French friend for our French rosé, Dolin’s Blanc vermouth, a refreshing, citrusy, teensily sweet number. All together a light, flavorful, cocktail that’s ideal as the summer night approaches.

sunch-animals-of-summerSuch Animals of Summer

Cracked ice
2 ounces Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve rosé
3/4 ounce Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur
1/2 Dolin Blanc vermouth

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

2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Enjoy the moment.

July 10, 2018

Sip the Grandeza Old Fashioned at Moctezuma – or at Home

Took a trip south to Southcenter not too long ago (if you consider “long ago” in the way I’m thinking), and stopped at the friendly and tasty Mexican restaurant Moctezuma. Not only did I have some delicious dishes, but also got to try new-ish (at the time!) orange liqueur Grandeza, a lush, rich tipple made by the owner of Moctezuma. I had it both straight and in the Grandeza Old Fashioned – and then wrote it up for the also lush Seattle magazine. So you can easily learn about Grandeza and learn to make the Grandeza Old Fashioned. Neat!

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