September 15, 2017
Listen, you can disagree and I won’t budge (I also won’t get up all in your face about it, cause that kind of discourse should be saved for fools of the worst order, of which sadly there are many): Washington has the best distillers distilling. Am I a local nerd? You betcha. But they just keep making tasty things in bottles, and I keep tasting them and being happy. You should come out here and do some tasting (and buying, to help the cause) and be happy too. Recently, I put two of our newer releases together, and the end result also made me awfully happy. It started with Westland Distillery’s Garrayana 2|1. The first version won “Best American Single Malt” last year, and this will win plenty of awards, too. It’s aged in casks made from Garry Oak (Quercus garryana), a native oak only growing up here in the Pacific Northwest, and admittedly a limited-edition (get it while you can). It has a molasses, smoke, berry, citrus flavor. And goes remarkably well with another new-ish release, Salish Sea Organic Liqueur’s Honeybush liqueur. Honeybush is an herb out of South Africa that is usually used to make tea, but here it’s crafted into a liqueur that is super tasty, with a smoky honey flavor on the front end, and a fruity ending. It goes well with whiskey, as evidenced here.
The Fountain of Fantastic Flora
2 ounces Westland Distilling Garryana single malt whiskey
1/2 ounce Salish Sea Organic Liqueur Honeybush liqueur
Bigger ice cube
1. Filling a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our two Washington delights. Stir, but not too long.
2. Add a big ice cube to an Old Fashioned or other comparable glass. Strain the flora (in liquid form) over the ice cube.
June 23, 2017
It’s interesting – we hear “leaves” and we think “fall,” because seasonally that’s when leaves become more iconic I suppose. Which may be backwards, since so many leaves are in place now, providing shade and such. And anyway, when titling this drink “Afternoon Leaves,” I was thinking more that it feels like such a nice drink for the end of the afternoon, the moment when afternoon itself is leaving to make room for dusk and evening.
Whew, that almost got too sappy! Late afternoon is also when many have tea (those pals in the U.K. first and foremost perhaps), and that also ties into this drink, since one of the two ingredients is Four Leaf Spirits Liath, an Earl Grey tea-infused gin. Pretty neat! Four Leaf is a small (in square feet, but not in taste) distillery in Woodinville, WA that makes tea-infused spirits and liqueurs (and rums under the Puget Sound Rum Company moniker), and also donates a portion of proceeds to cancer research and education-focused non-profits. Drinking and doing good is, well, good!
The Liath (named after the Irish for “grey”) is swell all on its own, with the juniper and botanicals from the gin mingling around the citrusy bergamot from the tea. But in the declining afternoon hours (which can be a little lonely), I wouldn’t want it to operate alone, and so picked a perfect partner: Italian vermouth legends Carpano’s Bianco vermouth.
I just recently picked up a bottle of this elixir, and it’s a special tipple, starting from the citrus, fruit, and nutty nose to the light-but-full taste, which has the flavors promised to the nose, with a touch of white-wine mineral-ness. Delicious solo as well, when combined with the Liath you have a complex but so sip-able cocktail. Try it, in the afternoon of course.
2 ounces Four Leaf Spirits Liath Earl Grey tea-infused gin
1 ounce Carpano Bianco
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our two charmers. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the twist.
February 7, 2017
Not so long ago in the past (though, admittedly, not yesterday either), wife Nat and I were lucky enough to go with some pals out to Scratch Distillery in Edmonds, WA to take part in one of their Ginology classes, where you end up with a bottle of your very own gin – one you designed! It’s neat, and even neater was that I got to write an article about Scratch Giniology for the Seattle magazine. You should read it! And then go do the class.
September 20, 2016
I recently was lucky enough to get to go out to Whidbey Island (or, the Isle of Whidbey as the case may be) to visit with the awesome and Scottish Colin Campbell, distiller and owner of Cadée Distillery. Then I got to write about the visit, the distillery, and some of their delicious spirits for the spirited Seattle magazine. You should read my Cadée Distillery article right now, cause I shouldn’t have all the fun, all the time.
* See all Seattle magazine pieces by me
June 10, 2016
As any truly worthy encyclopedia tells us, poets love gin. I mean, poets (most poets) love drinking most anything. Trust me, I’ve known my fair (or unfair) share of them. But gin is up there with things they love. Which is why having a Poet’s Dream on World Gin Day, which is tomorrow, makes lyrical sense, both for those of you that are poets (like Ed Skoog), and those who like a little poetry now-and-again, and those who really just want a good gin drink to celebrate the day. I’m having mine today, along with one tomorrow, because I’m on the ball. Or because I just can’t wait!
Oh, this liquid quatrain of a cocktail dates at least to The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, one of the true legendary drink manuals (by Albert Crockett, and originally published in 1935), which is where I first found it. There are, in a sorta rarity, three ingredients in it in equal amounts. To make it work, you must have a gin with a lot of flavor and one that’s nice and dry, or the Bénédictine and French vermouth push it around. I’m using Cadée Gin here, and if you can get it, get it. If not, find another sturdy gin. Oh, and don’t forget the twist, or my “liquid quatrain” line above doesn’t work, and we wouldn’t want that.
The Poet’s Dream
1 ounce Cadée gin
1 ounce Bénédictine
1 ounce French (aka Dry) Vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add everything but the twist. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail shaker, and garnish with the twist.
April 1, 2016
I’m pretty blessed to live in a state full of swell distilleries: big-ish ones, little-ish ones, medium-ish ones. And so many of them are doing their own, interesting bottled thing – it’s awesome! And during the course of one recent evening, I wanted to celebrate this particular WA-blessing by making myself a drink using all local booze. It wasn’t hard really (due to the many choices intimated at above), outside of narrowing it down – cause I like so many of them! Another night, it’d be completely different. This particular evening I was feeling rummy, though, and went with Skip Rock’s Belle Rose rum, the light-ish rum version, which was aged in white wine barrels, and has a nice vanilla-oaky-ness. I introduced it (hopefully not for the first time in history) to broVo spirits’ wonderful new-ish Lucky Falernum liqueur (especially good today). A lot of falernums available are a little cloying to me, but Lucky is higher-proof and more mighty than cloying, without losing its underlying ginger, lime, pineapple, star anise profile. Those two locals together is a good start, but I wanted a wild card, something to bring one more zing – I went with Salish Sea’s Hibiscus liqueur, made from Egyptian red hibiscus flowers, and carrying a lovely tangy tartness. Together, they made for a wonderful Washington evening indeed. No fooling!
The Course of the Evening
The Course of the Evening
1-1/2 ounces Skip Rock Belle Rose light rum
1 ounce broVo spirits Lucky Falernum
1/2 ounce Salish Sea Hibiscus liqueur
Orange wedge, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the trio of Washington-state delights. Stir well (I really wanted to say “just right” there).
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Squeeze the wedge over the glass, then drop it in.
January 15, 2016
Hey, happy 2016! Sorry there have been few posts for the last few weeks, but I went to Italy for the holidays and wasn’t able to post due to having wine in each hand. Well, wine, pizza, cheese, and grappa. And amari. And Negronis. And pasta forks. You get it! But now I’m back with a swell and simple drink for your Friday. So easy. So delicious. Just like one wants early in January. It has two key ingredients: Woodinville Whiskey Co’s new bourbon and amaretto. If you need to use another bourbon, well, I feel sorry for you. On the amaretto, I used my homemade version (recipe below), and if you can’t use that, well, I feel sorry for you again. But it would still be a good drink I think, even with slightly different ingredients. Try it! And let me know.
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. bourbon
1 ounce homemade amaretto
Wide orange twist, for garnish
1. Add a few good-sized nice ice cubes to an Old Fashioned or comparable glass. Then add the bourbon. Then the amaretto. Stir well.
2. Garnish with that orange twist. Enjoy the New Year.
A Note: To make An Enticing Amaretto (from Luscious Liqueurs) follow this recipe:
1 cup skin-on whole raw almonds
1 Tablespoon orange zest
2-1/2 cups brandy
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Using a chef’s knife, roughly cut the almonds into smallish pieces. Add them, the orange zest, and the brandy to a large glass container, one with a secure lid. Stir well. Place the container in a cool, safe, place, away from the sun. Let sit for two weeks, swirling occasionally.
2. Add the sugars and the water to the medium-sized saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high heat. Lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a low boil for five minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup completely cool in the pan. This step can be done anytime during the two weeks mentioned in step 1, as long as the syrup is refrigerated until it’s added to the liqueur.
3. Add the syrup made in step 2 and the vanilla to your secure container. Stir well. Place the container back in a cool, safe, place, away from the sun. Let sit for two more weeks, swirling at least every other day.
4. After the final two weeks, carefully strain the mix through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other container, one that you can easily pour out of–there’s no need to spill.
5. Next, get two new sheets of cheesecloth, and strain the amaretto into bottles or jars with good lids–or one larger container. Serve either chilled or at room temperature, depending on your mood and inclination.
December 22, 2015
If you live in WA State, you should be excited – for about 10,000 reasons, though here I’m talking about our explosion of interesting, tasty, and fun distilleries. Hopefully you’re already drinking drinks utilizing the bottles put out by our worthy distilleries. If not, then check out a piece I recently wrote for the stalwart Seattle magazine, 7 Must-Have Bottles for Stocking Your At-Home Bar. If you don’t live in the W-A, well, come visit, so you can also stock your home bar in a manner that’ll make you feel all sorts of happy.