November 6, 2020
Okay, obvious statement number one: you know what’s awesome? Pals are awesome. Perhaps moreso now than ever (now meaning the moment I’m typing, which is during a very bad year – future reader, I hope whatever time you’re reading this is more conducive to swell-ness), which is a somewhat interesting statement as it can be harder to see (and here I mean see for reals, not through a screen – not that that isn’t real per se, but not as real real, really) to see said pals. Make sense? Clear as brandy? How about, obvious statement number two: awesome pals who make tasty things and then drop them off for you are, well, awesome! Which is what happened for me recently, as pal Rebecca (genius pal, I might say) sent some homemade plum shrub and grenadine our way, and what a pandemic helper they have been! More of the latter later, but today, we’ve delving plum shrub style, as I used it to make a tasty (if I can say so without sounding like a lame-o) sipper which I’m calling Spirit and Substance.
It starts (duh!) with tangy, zingy, fruity plum shrub. I don’t know how it’s made, but can find out if you’re desperate. I matched with with a gin (gin and fruit = yum), specifically Sipsmith London Dry gin, which I adore due to its dry, citrus, fruit (dare I say marmalade), character. But I didn’t stop there! I thought about it (often we just see shrub+base spirit+ soda, but more felt appropriate), tried this and that, and ended up with more fruit in the way of Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur. Made outside of Kent, WA on the same farm the blackberries (and other delights) are grown, its rich berry body was the ideal addition. And then, soda, ice, lemon twist, and boom! A drink that’ll bring summer into fall, and pals into your heart, if not your home bar.
Spirit and Substance
1-1/2 ounce Sipsmith London Dry gin
3/4 ounce plum shrub
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Blackberry liqueur
4 ounces chilled club soda
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Add the gin, shrub, and liqueur to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass three-quarters up with ice cubes. Strain the mix from step one into the glass, over the ice.
3. Add the club soda, and stir to combine. Garnish with the twist.
September 4, 2020
I suppose I’ve said this many times, even recently, but also farther back, throughout the ol’ Spiked Punch blog-of-drinks history, but blackberries, to me, are the queen of summertime berries, the champion of August fruits, the glorious harbinger of winter’s doom (because I always know summer is ending when I’m plowing through blackberries), and just generally really good, especially when they’re plump and sweet but holding a tiny tanginess, too. Yummski, blackberries. I like them solo, in drinks, with peanut butter, when they have been taken by Sidetrack Distillery and made into their (also, yummski) Blackberry liqueur, and when they are painted into a still life so I can admire their artistry. So, yeah, I like them, and I like them in this here drink, which is not a far relative from some other drinks, say, the Margarita, but which has its own particular name, because why wouldn’t a good drink deserve an individual name? That’d be just silly, and while I am silly, I am not silly in that way, I’ll have you know.
You know? Back to this drink! It leans heavy into our beautiful blackberries, but that isn’t all naturally. The base, for example, is another summertime (anytime) fav, mezcal, which starts us earthy and smoky. Then, Grandeza orange liqueur, made in WA, and boasting a bright orange, vanilla flavor. You could use another orange liqueur, but this one is a treat if you can get some (I realize that during the present pandemic, it might be harder than normal to travel, so I’m not gonna try to sway you toward a WA trip. Today, at least). A little fresh lime in attendance and you’ll see the Marg mention above come to life. The final piece of this tasty puzzle has also been mentioned above: Sidetrack Distillery’s lush, lovely Blackberry liqueur. Get some! Make this drink! Believe in the power of blackberries!
The Fruit on the Table
6 fresh blackberries
2 ounce mezcal
3/4 ounces Grandeza
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Blackberry liqueur
1, Add four of the blackberries to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well.
2. Fill the shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but our second variety of ice. Shake well.
3. Fill a goblet (or comparable) glass with cracked ice. Strain the mix from Step 2 into the glass through a fine strainer. Garnish with the remaining blackberries.
August 14, 2020
Okay, to be clear, I’m not telling you that you should ignore the sun’s heat, and not take necessary precautions for safety when the big ol’ yellow ball is high and hot and the Mercury has risen to precarious degrees. Be safe, friends, in all ways! However, I do think Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun is a delicious name for a delicious summertime, heated weather drink, and if I can say so without sounding like a jerk, I think the below unveiled liquid number fits that bill like a perfect pair of summer shorts. So, now, preamble over.
This particular summer drink is made possible by the postal service – cause it was from their hands a lovely delivery of Diplomático Mantuano rum showed up at my house one day. This is a nice rum, in my opinion (as the kids say) at least. A blend of rums aged up to eight years, it’s fairly mellow, smooth, flavorful (with fruit notes – dried and fresh oranges, plums – vanilla, oak, and spice), a little sweet, carrying a bit of a kick, and pretty darn tasty all on its own, solo, singular, alone. I almost didn’t save enough to try in a cocktail, but those fruit flavors begged me to, and, as hot as it is today, I felt that maybe it’d be temperature-worthy to ice and tall it up some. But what to mix with it?
Well, I wanted to keep the summertime fruit flavors flowing, so my first choice of pals for the rum to play with was Sidetrack Strawberry liqueur. A perfectly wonderful distillery on a farm where all the fruit, spices, herbs, and such used to make their array of must-taste products are grown, Sidetrack has a bounty of fruit liqueur choices, but Strawberry went ideally (as it does with summer). Next up, more fruitiness, this time fresh from the orange’s mouth – meaning, fresh squeezed orange juice for a welcoming citrus burst. But the fruit doesn’t stop there, oh no! I also added a little Fee Brothers peachy Peach bitters, and a hint of simply syrup, which isn’t fruity, but which brings our rummy fruit salad together. You could try without, and I wouldn’t swear about it. Then, it’s on to ice and soda to keep things cool and hydrated, and voila! A sunshine’s-out-sensation!
Fear No More The Heat O’ The Sun
1-1/2 ounces Diplomático Mantuano rum
1/2 ounce Sidetrack Distillery Strawberry liqueur
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
Dash Fee Brothers Peach bitters
1/2 ounce simple syrup
4 ounces chilled club soda
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add everything but the soda. Shake well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with ice cubes. Strain the mix from Step 1 through a fine strainer into the glass.
3. Top with the club soda. Stir, not mightily, but in a manner that brings everything together. Enjoy the fearing no more.
February 11, 2020
I’m a bit behind in boasting about this, but recently I was lucky enough to be able to visit Highside Distilling on Bainbridge Island out here in the WA, and then even luckier enough to be able to write about said distillery for the beautiful (I’m all about the b’s today) Seattle magazine. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, be sure to check out my Highside Distilling article now (please, hahaha). And while reading is nice, I strongly suggest that if you haven’t had the even more pleasure-filled chance to visit Highside, then you get on out there to try their gin, amari, and other treats. You know (don’t you?) that WA has the finest distillers in the land?
December 6, 2019
What a name for this cocktail! Credit has to go to pal mighty Matt Dupree (thanks Matt!), who I used to work with at a big game-making company. And this here drink – which honestly isn’t bad, but I don’t think it lives up to the name; then again, what drink could? – was going to be the one had one my final day at said company, but then fate (as fate does) didn’t allow it all to play out that way. But no worries! You and I can drink the below drink any day, and still enjoy it’s slightly sweet-with-a-little-bitter nature, which matches leaving a gig you’ve gigged at for some years, but also matches, say, a day you’re sad to see go, or finishing a good book, all of that. As you might expect for a drink that I originally crafted for a day as described that took place here in WA, this drink definitely leans local, though if not in WA (but really, why aren’t you? At least visiting), you could still put together wherever you may be by doing some ingredient hunting, which is a fun pastime indeed. It starts with gin – for me, I used Scratch’s Martini Style gin, a jolly medium-juniper-y gin with 17 botanicals and oodles of flavor. Then, Salish Seas lovely Allspice liqueur, delivering the spice that’s nice, and Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters, available in big bottles as well as the small one pictured! And a perfectly-pitched aromatic bitters for a host of classic bittering needs. For the sweet (well, the liqueur is a little sweet, but not overly so), a splash of Woodinville Whiskey’s Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup does the trick so well, I can’t even describe it. You’ll have to try it. And this drink! Which I am toasting to all the past co-workers right now.
A Suitably Bittersweet Memoir of Games, Copy, Friends, and How They Might Be Found on a Friday in Mid-November
1-1/2 ounce Scratch Martini Style gin
3/4 ounce Salish Seas Allspice liqueur
3 dashes Scrappy’s Aromatic bitters
1/2 ounce Woodinville Whiskey Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add it all, with the memories, too. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Sip, muse about stuffs, sip more.
August 16, 2019
While I like many distilleries from around the world, I like Washington State distilleries best-est. I’m a local-leaner at heart, which maybe isn’t a bad thing. It does mean that sometimes I have recipes on here that are all WA distillers, which could be frustrating if you don’t live here. But then think of this – WA is a great place to visit, and when you visit, you can then visit our wonderful distilleries, pick up the ingredients used here, and, well, enjoy a wonderful life and drink. Boom! I solved all the problems.
The Mighty M is vaguely – very – Manhattan-y, uses two ingredients that have “M” in their names, and is a drink my old pal Joel Meister might like, and that’s where the name comes from. But the drink is based on a spirit without an M, funny enough, Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon. An award-winner, if you haven’t had this becoming-legendary bourbon yet, well, you need to make the above referenced trip more quickly! Cause it’s great, aged five years, made with only WA grain from one farm, with a spice, caramel, chocolate taste. And it goes amazing with our other two pals in play. First, a WA-amaro (Wamaro?) that I only became hip to recently, Highside Distillery Amaro Mele. Made on Bainbridge Island on a base of their gin, which itself has an apple-spirit base, using five bitter herbs and aromatics and aged up to six weeks in a used Bourbon barrel, it leans on the bitter side of the amaro world, with a smoky, herby, beautifully bracing taste. You might be starting to think this is one of those drinks that’s good, but solely strong, without a sweeter side. Enter, our third ingredient: Salish Sea Maple liqueur. The first maple liqueur I’ve ever had, this all organic number is velvety and like a better maple syrup (it would make for amazing pancakes). It adds those distinctive maple notes, pairs perfectly with the above two players, and brings just the right light kiss of sweet. Altogether, a mighty drink indeed.
The Mighty M
2 ounces Woodinville Whiskey Co. Straight bourbon
3/4-ounce Highside Distillery Amaro Mele
1/2-ounce Salish Sea Maple liqueur
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add all the mighties, all three. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass. If you’re feeling it, try garnishing with an orange peel. Then let me know how it is.
July 26, 2019
Yeah, yeah, I hear you – it’s summer, who sits around drinking brandy in the summer? Shouldn’t it be sipped in drawing rooms post-dinner during the chillier months? Shouldn’t you be wearing a cravat of some sort, or at least a dinner jacket, and not shorts and a t-shirt? You keep on tut-tut-ing in your corner and putting drinks into buckets, and I’ll keep on sipping whatever sounds good at this moment and enjoying myself. Deal? Deal!
And what sounds, tastes, and is good even this July moment is the delicious brandy released not too long ago by the swell Seattle Distilling Company. WA state should have way, way more delicious brandies, due to our wonderful wine industry (and I don’t need to tell you how wine and brandy go together). But, sadly, not yet. However, the (as I mentioned, swell) folks at the Seattle Distilling Company’s brandy is a WA-state treat, using grapes grown here, and aged five years in casks that previously held Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s smooth and worth savoring, with a fig, vanilla, raisin-ness, along with the underlying good grape-y-ness. Something just right to linger over any time of year, me thinks. You can’t disagree until you’ve tried it, which, sadly, might be tough as it was a limited-edition brandy release – though perhaps there are a few bottles left, so get to tracking one down. You deserve it!
July 9, 2019
Hello teevee fans! Recently, I was lucky enough to go on the awesome New Day Northwest show to talk about locally-made bottles of spirits and liqueurs (locally in wonderful W-A that is) for dads for Father’s Day. I know what you’re thinking – Father’s Day was last month. And you know what, you’re right! But you know (what else)? The bottles I talked about are good any day of the year. So, do yourself a favor and watch me talk about Washington distilleries on New Day Northwest.