No place like home

I’ve bid good-bye to champagne/sparkling wine for another year and so back to Regarding Cocktails.  I’d forgotten that the first chapter is all drinks to build in the glass, and on nights like tonight (long day at work, sleepless night), a quick build directly in the glass sounds like just the trick.  Although s you don’t achieve the same deep cold of a well-stirred cocktail, at least that’s offset by the fact that the cocktail is designed to manage the slow dilution of the single large cube.  All that aside — this is a lovely drink. I used one of my current favorite bourbons (Few), and the perfect elements of citrus and the smallest bit of bitterness all play wonderfully well together.  I could easily drink this over and over again.

Home on the Range, Michael Madrusan, Milk & Honey

Bubble, bubble

One of the benefits of New Year’s is that I have leftover champagne (this years it’s actually Prosecco) with which to make champagne cocktails.  I’m not a huge champagne fan, so it’s not generally an ingredient I keep on hand, but I admit it’s fun to play with on the rare occasions that I have some available.  Even better, there’s a whole section for sparkling cocktails in Death & Company’s book that I haven’t even touched.  Tonight’s experiment was fairly tasty and definitely a nice change of pace with regards to texture/mouthfeel.  The bubbles make even a Monday night before heading back to work seem a little more exciting.

Elder Fashion Royal, Phil Ward, Death & Company

Back to the beginning

Happy New Year’s, everyone!  I’m starting to work my way through Regarding Cocktails, the book started by the late, great Sasha Petraske and completed by his wife, Georgette. Sasha started Milk & Honey in New York, which was arguably the birthplace of the modern craft cocktail movement, and it’s his sensibility that really defined the care and attention that we apply to drink-making today.  There’s something simple yet wonderful to take what can be an extremely complex and involved process down to bare-bones and execute it perfectly. The American Trilogy cocktail is a riff on the Old Fashioned, but with a couple subtle changes that give it an extra bit of flair and interest. 

American Trilogy, Richard Boccato, Milk & Honey

Better than a bird

In honor of Thanksgiving, I picked a random drink from my new copy of The Canon Cocktail Book. What a great way to start a long holiday weekend.  This is a lovely light blend of flavors that doesn’t overwhelm. I did sub in Carpano Antica since Punt e Mes is not my favorite vermouth. 

Wishing all those celebrating a wonderful Thanksgiving, and most especially freedom from any family-related unpleasantness. For those not celebrating, cheers to you!

Cobbler’s Dream, The Canon Cocktail Book

Making the pilgrimage

Last weekend we spent four days in the wonderful City That Never Sleeps, and not only were we able to hit a couple of the seminal lounges in the chronology of craft cocktails, but we also found a couple of new treats.  On our first night, we wandered from our hotel in Times Square to The Rum House.  Despite being feet from one of the most frenetic and tourist-packed places on earth, The Rum House still managed to create a wonderful little sanctuary (even though we did have to wait a bit to find a place at the bar and let the pre-theater crowd clear out a bit).  I started with a traditional daiquiri and then tried a special rum-based version of the Brooklyn, conjured by our excellent bartender, Abel.  The rum Brooklyn was a great example of why I love the current world of craft cocktails where we can riff to our hearts’ content.

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Although we had tickets to a couple of shows, I did carve out a night just for explorations in cocktails.  We started at Pegu Club, which was a lovely surprise.  Walking through the front door and up the stairs was like taking a slow stroll back in time to a more genteel and classy era.  I could have stayed there all night, just chatting with the bartender and marveling at the ambiance.  The big downside of New York is there are too many wonderful places to explore!

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Little Italy (left) and Kill Devil, Pegu Club

Next we headed to the east side to pay homage to Death & Company.  As much as I had longed to visit this place, I have to admit that it felt a bit soulless compared to Pegu Club.  The bar was gorgeous and the drinks were delicious, but there was just something missing.  So glad to have gone, but I don’t think I would return.  Especially not with fantastic options like…

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High Noon (left) and Warspite, Death & Company

Mace.  We found Mace through the recommendation of the bartender at Pegu Club, and I’m so glad we took his advise.  Mace approaches cocktails in a whole different way than any bar I’ve visited so far, and while some of their drinks are not the type you would sip everyday, they were thought-provoking in the most delicious way.  Drinking the White Pepper was like a blast to Asia, with all the sweet, salty, bitter, and bright flavors I would imagine coming from a late night stroll in an open market.  In sharp contrast, the Turmeric incorporated a clarified milk punch with jalapeno to create a light and creamy libation that managed not to sit too heavily.  My favorite part was that Ethan, the bartender, took the time to chat with us, explaining the ideas behind the bar’s menu, plus offering suggestions for other local bars and eateries.  I absolutely loved that even in New York, good bartenders will take the time to share the love of cocktails.  Unfortunately, I spent all my time gabbing and enjoying the cocktails rather than taking pictures.  Instead, I’ll share my favorite anti-choking poster from New York.

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I think you could spend years in New York and not find all the wonderful cocktail gems.  The city is constantly evolving and growing the next batch of cocktail stars.  I heard a few bartenders and others mention Blacktail, Angel’s Share, and Attaboy, plus the neighborhood bar Amor y Amargo.  I’m already starting my new list for the next trip.

Weak branches

I decided to branch out and try something completely new this time, but sadly, it didn’t quite pan out. This cocktail, via Kindred Cocktails, is just too bitter for my taste, even after adding a bit of maple syrup for some extra sweetness. That being said, the lemon really is a lovely touch that tries to balance the intense autumn flavors. 

Aaron A. Aaronson, Jason Westplate, Kindred Cocktails

Getting the business

Early on in my cocktail adventure I drank a lot of gin. I mean, A LOT. Over the last year, however, I’ve neglected it in favor of whiskey. For some reason today, with the first frost in the air, I’m feeling the urge to revisit my old friend. I pulled this easy drink from my favorite cocktail app, Bartender’s Choice.  It’s a lovely drink, sort of a floral daiquiri. I may have to add this into my rotation, both for summer and days when I want to remember summer.

The Business, Sasha Petraske, Milk & Honey

Kicking and screaming

Many thanks to my Seattle drinking friend for today’s cocktail.  After all the hullabaloo with debates and elections, it seemed appropriate for something appropriately American.  The A.V. Club says this drink was developed by Laura Kelton of Sportsman’s Club in Chicago, and I give her a solid tip of he hat.  Although my husband and I disagreed about whether this was a summer drink (lime) or a fall drink (apple and ginger), we both agreed it’s tasty.  I can easily imagine sipping this next to a fall bonfire or on the beach during a sunset.  Considering that our Northwest summer lasts well into October, this may well be the perfect Portland drink.  

All-American Mule, Laura Kelton, Sportsman’s Club