You rarely see whiskey and gin combined in cocktails: the strong flavors require skill to achieve balance and coax the two spirits into playing well together. I found a great example of that skill in the 2015 Food & Wine Cocktails book. Today’s drink is the Sharpie Mustache from Chris Elford, currently of No Anchor in Seattle. Equal parts rye, dry gin, Bonal Gentiane-Quina, and Amaro Meletti (I subbed in Amaro Lucano) come together with a sweet start, a strong flood over the palate, and an herbal and slightly bitter finish. If you’re feeling adventurous and not afraid of ABV, I’d give this a try. At a minimum, enjoy Chris’s story (inset).
Sometimes I think re-starting is harder than starting from the first. But at least I have a drink to help me out tonight. The Self Starter was originally published in the Savoy Cocktail Book, but I discovered it with the help of Paul Clarke’s The Cocktail Chronicles. This is a very gin-forward drink, but I personally find that the apricot liqueur and absinthe do a great job of taking it beyond plain-Jane martini territory and into something more interesting. If you’re the gin-curious type, I’d definitely give this a try.
I have been drinking this cocktail almost exclusively for the last month, and it’s a great example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Just that little balance between the amaro and the maraschino makes all the difference. The result is a slightly richer, almost chocolatey Manhattan, and I am in love. Via Bartender’s Choice app.
Tonight I’m trying another drink from Gaz Regan’s app, a riff on the old standard The Last Word. I’ve been keeping more fresh fruit in the house, so I get to play with some brighter flavors: leaning towards the sweet/sour side of the equation rather than the hot/spirit-forward side. I made a small tweak and used cane syrup instead of honey just because honey can be a little difficult to incorporate into cold liquids. This cocktail was another tasty option (you really can’t go wrong with rum and lime), but again, it’s not a drink that I would necessarily go back to frequently just because it was tasty but not stellar. If you’re looking for new ways to drink rum, however, I would definitely give this a try; the ingredients are all good standards that you’ll use again and again in multiple types of drinks.
This weekend I bought the app for Gaz Regan’s 101 Best New Cocktails, 2011-2015, and this is my first selection. It’s a nice enough drink, with a good balance of sweet and sour plus an interesting spice undertone. Likely not something I’d drink frequently as it’s not a real show-stopper, but a nice enough cocktail for a Tuesday night.
A word about the app: it’s $10, but it does give you the option to enter in all your booze and will tell you what you can make. If you have a large variety of spirits like I do, it’s really helpful to have tailor-made selections. I also enjoy that the app is full of new drinks that I wouldn’t have in any of my other apps (Bartenders’ Choice is my favorite for a great list of classic drinks).
While I didn’t pick up anything especially new or interesting at the liquor store today, it did remind me of a barely-used bottle of Ramazzotti sitting on the shelf. A quick search in Kindred Cocktails brought me to today’s drink. Sometimes spirit-only drinks can be a little overbearing, but this one has a very nice balance. It definitely needs the lemon peel garnish, however, just to give it a little tang as it could easily veer too sweet. Surprisingly, I think this is my first Gaz Regan drink (for those who don’t know, Gaz Regan is a sort of icon in the cocktail world), and I have to admit, I can see why he has the stature he does. This was a lovely cocktail to enjoy while hiding from the Pacific Northwest’s abnormal heatwave.
Those who follow my Instagram (@cocktailmonologue) know that I spent last week in Honolulu, Hawaii. Although my travel was for work, I did manage to check in at several great restaurants/cocktail bars to try out the local booze scene. I hit local favorites (Duke’s and Roy’s) and found a few less-known places (Kai Poke and Bar Leather Apron) that served up some lovely drinks. Now that I’m mostly settled back into my normal life, I decided to pull through the tropical theme with a pineapple variant of the Mojito (using Plantation’s Stiggins’ Pineapple Rum). And to be honest, I wanted to be able to take advantage of the fresh mint available in my own backyard. I really enjoy the Stiggins’ rum, but it doesn’t quite fit in with the mint (you essentially get two nice but constrasting tastes, with the pineapple funkiness leading the bright mint). Still, you really can’t go wrong when you mix pineapple and rum, especially if you’re hanging on to that island farm of mind.
I’m a huge fan of the whole class of Daisy drinks, but this one seems just about perfect for summer: not too sour, not too sweet, not too boozy. Be sure to shake this thoroughly so it sips ice cold. And if you haven’t tried the Caña Brava rum yet, I definely recommend it. Via Bartender’s Choice app.
This was a surprisingly wonderful drink! The ingredients are so simple that I wasn’t expecting the flavors to come together and be so much greater than the sum of their parts. There’s a rich sweetness, a bit of sour, just a hint of freshness from the mint, and the mellow spiciness of the rye just pulling it all together. I definitely recommend giving this cocktail a try, especially as we move into summer: the mint helps make this a great sipper for the warmer weather.
With so many great summer drinks including mint in the recipe, I decided to try to cultivate my own this year.
I bought Paul Clarke’s The Cocktail Chronicles more than a year ago, but I’m just starting to dig into its pages. I’ve been very impressed so far: you get a great combination of new recipes, classic recipes, and a lot of interesting stories about cocktail life in general. The drink I pulled today only made me like the book even more. I rarely have fresh strawberries on hand, but I was lucky to have a couple mostly-fresh strawberries on hand to make this delicious sipper. The simple syrup really brings out the sweetness of the strawberry, which in turn is a great foil for the spicy ginger beer. It’s a beautiful day out here, and it’s a perfect compliment to this lovely drink. (And if you’re wondering, yes, that is an Alien pint glass.)