January 7, 2020
I’ve been re-reading the Day Keene duo book (duo, as it contains two full novels – quite a Day deal, really) put out by Stark House, the one which contains both My Flesh is Sweet (which has its own My Flesh is Sweet Cocktail Talk in the Spiked Punch, and for that matter, check out all the Day Keene Cocktail Talk posts) and Framed in Guilt. And in said re-reading, a couple sweet quotes I should have highlighted the first time popped out to me. So, consider this Part I. Framed in Guilt (which may well be the mighty pulp master Keene’s first!) is a fast-paced, well-plotted, yarn in the Keene style, in which Hollywood scripter Robert Stanton barrels around CA, with his past catching up to him (maybe?) and a murder or two hung on him, as well as nearly getting burned himself. It moves in the Keene manner! Which is a high compliment indeed. And they drink some Scotch, as well as other things. But below, Scotch.
The man at the wheel seemed to shrink. His coat was suddenly too large for his shoulders. It seemed difficult for him to breathe. “I didn’t know there was a child. Believe me.” He took a bottle from the glove compartment. “After that, I need a drink.”
“You might ask if I cared for one,” Grace said.
He handed her the bottle. It was dimpled bottle Scotch, and tasted as good as it smelled. Grace drank sparingly, then corked and returned the bottle to the glove compartment.
–Day Keene, Framed in Guilt
December 3, 2019
The Hal Masur Cocktail Talking continues! Or Harold Q. Masur if you prefer (my guess is he wouldn’t have cared a whit). But either way – hard talking, hard drinking, hard lawyering, hardly ever skipping a chance to flirt lawyer Scott Jordan (Mr. Masur’s regular protagonist) is at it again here on the Spiked Punch, this time with a quote from the deadly-named Bury Me Deep. We had a swell Dubonnet and brandy-fueled quote in our Bury Me Deep, Part I Cocktail Talk many courtrooms ago, but I just re-read the book, along with other Jordan escapades, and had to put a second quote up here. And it’s right down below, and is one that reminded me of all the wonderful distillers I’ve known.
“Quite a coincidence,” I said. “I have a present for you.”
She pressed my arm lightly. “You’re a psychic. I love presents. Let’s have a drink on it.”
She poured some bourbon into a pair of thin jiggers and we touched glasses. It was fine bourbon. The distiller hadn’t become impatient. It was smooth as a hummingbird’s wing. She turned to me with a shine in her eyes.
“I’m terribly excited. What is it?”
—Bury Me Deep, Harold Q. Masur
October 4, 2019
Okay, hopefully this isn’t annoying (too much), but I’m going to lay out a perfect chilly-fall-night drink, but it has not one, but two ingredients that might not be easy for all to get – however, they are worth getting, so get on your buggies (or whatever you use for transportation) and perhaps time machines (or whatever you use to travel through time). The first is from the swell sweethearts at Seattle Distilling Company, a whiskey made from Washington-grown rye (the best rye, I’m guessing), called Brockway Hill, which has a lovely rye spice flavor and umph and is well worth sipping solo as well as in this cocktail. However! That’s not the end of the story, as this delight was named for a Vashon Island bootlegger from back during the sad time called prohibition. Does that story make it taste better? Yep, yep it does! Our second ingredient alluded to above is another WA-made delight: Scrappy’s Seville Orange bitters. A seasonal Scrappy’s (hence the harder to get, and maybe the need for time machines), it as-you’d-expect utilizes Seville oranges, the peels specifically, and delivers cozy marmalade and winter spice action. Watch for it as the snow falls. Our last ingredient in this Manhattan-y trio is actually more available now than it was – because it’s fairly new and wasn’t available at all in the dark days of the past: Cynar 70. If you haven’t had the amazing and fairly-legendary Italian artichoke-based amaro Cynar, then shame on you. Have it now, and then have its higher-proof sibling, Cynar 70. The latter still brings the herbally goodness, but with a bit of a stronger kick, a kick that can be nice to have in cocktails such at this one. Drink up (but not when driving that buggy).
Rye on Earth
2-1/2 ounces Seattle Distilling Company Brockway Hill whiskey
1/2 ounce Cynar 70
2 dashes Scrappy’s Seville Orange bitters
Blackberry, for garnish*
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ices. Add our trio of stalwarts. Stir well.
2. Add your blackberry to a cocktail glass. Strain the mix into said glass.
*You could go a cherry here. But blackberries are cool. And you wanna be cool, right?
September 20, 2019
Fall officially starts in three days, and I can feel it (this happens when you get to be my age – it could also just be a good thing to say) deep inside. And what does one sip when the fall is about to start and you can feel it, and winter behind it, always, coming? Well, a Whiskey Sour seems like a good choice, with that heft of whiskey and the citrus zing underneath, and then an echo of sweet (to remind you and spring, also always, follows winter). At least that’s the route I’m running today!
The Whiskey Sour
2 ounces Four Roses straight bourbon
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Lemon slice, for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, lemon juice, and syrup. Shake well.
2. Strain through a fine strainer into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon slice.
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.
August 9, 2019
Whiskey (with “e” or not) sometimes – or often – gets short shrift in the summer months, when the temperature is as high as modern hemlines. And I can see the point, a little, as whiskey is deep, dark, strong, and not known as a light-stepper. However! I also feel sad for whiskey, and think that there are many ways to utilize it that get the flavor, and also bring the refresh. Take this drink right here, which is a fruity, friendly, thirst-quencher that you’d be happy to have in the backyard as the sun goes down on an August day – or ever around the pool, if that’s your summertime activity of choice.
It starts with a whiskey that was new to me until recently (when some lovely little bottles showed up at my house – I know, I know, I’m lucky), Tommyrotter Distillery’s Triple Barrel American Whiskey
. If you don’t know them already (and really, you should), Tommyrotter is a distillery from up in Buffalo NY, named after the Tommyrotters’ Club of early 20th century artist types, who (as the website told me), “sought adventure, mischief, and inspiration in nature.” I love that! That’s a good story for sure. Which wouldn’t mean as much if the whiskey wasn’t also good, naturally. A blend of three different whiskeys, which is then finished in French oak ex-wine barrels, this tipple is a very amiable and approachable spirit. It has a caramel and vanilla nature, accented by baking spice, apples (dried and fresh), and hints of herbs and other fruit – a little stone fruit here and there. The nose mirrors that taste, while the finish adds a bit more oak. Smooth! And well worth sipping solo.
But also, due to the approachability, dandy for mixing. Here, I brought in two fruit accents, both because I thought they’d match the whiskey well, and cause it seemed summer-y. To me, at least! First up, Rothman & Winter Orchard apricot liqueur
. A brandy-based liqueur, it boasts a rich, lush, tasty that doesn’t get overwhelmed by cloying sweetness like some. Peach bitters from everyone friends at Fee Brothers
rounds things out with its peach-forward-ness. Finally, some club soda (it is hot out, after all), a bunch of crushed ice I crushed myself (good exercise), and a sprig of mint from the garden. I’ve never really thought of mint, apricot, and peaches, but it’s a delight – when the whiskey is in place to make sure everyone plays nice.
My Final Offer
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with ice cubes. Add the whiskey, liqueur, and bitters. Stir well.
2. Fill a highball or comparable glass with crushed ice (or cracked if needs must). Strain the mix from above into the glass.
3. Top with the club soda. Garnish with the mint. Serve with a straw? I like it, but up to you.
May 28, 2019
I’m continuing along with a little David Goodis, following our stop at Nightfall and peach cordials, all from the David Goodis Start House Noir Classics collection of three books from this prince of the bleak, breathtaking, and sometimes nearly too dark – though Night Squad doesn’t end quite in that manner, though it ain’t exactly all light and flowers, either. There’s an ex-cop gone bad and wondering about going good again, a really bad part of town run by a bad boss who really likes rowing (really!), a bar and some drunks, another bad guy trying to take over, and, well, lots of other stuff, including the below talk on booze and prices and goathead, and I don’t know what that means. Maybe you do? Maybe reading all the past David Goodis Cocktail Talks will help?
The deal is, Jim, there’s an acute shortage or funds. So let’s take whiskey, just as an instance. A legitimate bottle, a fifth, it’s four dollars and up. The contraband booze, the cooked corn and goathead, you get it for a dollar a pint. Of course sometimes it’s poison, but those times are very seldom. Maybe one batch out of five thousand, and you’ll admit that’s a tiny percentage. Chances are, when you drink the homemade juice you won’t be sick the next day. I’ve never had a hangover from the corn or the goat, and that’s more than I can say for some well-known legal brands.
–David Goodis, Night Squad
January 4, 2019
I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, baby, it’s cold outside. There, I did it, I sung the song that once was neat, and now has sadly been covered into oblivion. A shame, really. What’s not a shame on a cold-outside-day is this winter Washington warmer. It’s a curious choco-mix in one manner, in that it mixes hot chocolate and whiskey, which isn’t seen often. Silly, that. Here, the whiskey side is Scratch’s straight whiskey. Scratch (you should know this!) is a delicious distillery out in WA, specifically Edmonds, WA. They make all kinds of bottled things, starting with gins, and moving along. Their whiskey can be hard to get, but is worth tracking down, due to its singular (and single-barrel), mash bill, which utilizes a line-up of “old world” grains I hadn’t seen together before: spelt, millet, white winter wheat, and malted barley. Scrumptious stuff. Also scrumptious, the other WA-made ingredient used here, Salish Sea distillery’s organic allspice liqueur. Salish Sea is from Lacey, WA, and makes an incredible array of all-organic liqueurs, a line-up covering classic flavors and more esoteric numbers. And if that wasn’t enough scrumptiousness, a little Seattle-made Scrappy’s orange bitters adds the final touch here, in a mighty-fine way: you put a few drops on top of the whipped cream topping, and the bitter scents waft up as you drink. So, what are you waiting for? Warm up.
Melt the Snow
1-1/2 ounces Scratch Straight Whiskey
1/2 ounce Salish Sea allspice liqueur
2 ounces hot chocolate
Dash or two Scrappy’s orange bitters
1. Add the Scratch whiskey and Salish Sea allspice liqueur to a mixing glass. Stir briefly.
2. Warm a coffee mug or sturdy glass goblet by running it under hot water, and then drying it quickly.
3. Add the hot chocolate to the mug. Slowly and smoothly, add the whiskey-liqueur mix, stirring while you add.
4. Top with whipped cream, and then sprinkle a little bitters onto the whipped cream.