Yup. That's me, staring longingly at a bathtub chock-filled with hooch. Let me explain....

You see, just before the 4th of July weekend, I went to NYC for the wedding of one of my best friends in the whole wide world. At the pre-wedding dinner, Christine and I mentioned we had bought the bride and groom a bottle of Lucid, the new legal absinthe being sold in the city, to Kat, one of those electric human beings you run into every now and then who seems to know everybody and everything. She told us we simply had to go to this one liquor store in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. The way she described this little place, I felt my life would be lesser if I didn't make the trip.

And wouldn't you know it, it probably would have.

First, we couldn't find a cab driver who even knew how to get us to Red Hook. You should know we were already in Brooklyn, staying at the Marriott near the Brooklyn Bridge. I had to get us there, reading the map for the cabbie. What should have been a ten minute ride from the hotel ended up being closer to 30 minutes. Beginning to sound like the quest for the Holy Grail?

In a way, yes. Welcome to Lenell's, the coolest liquor store on the planet.

You want bourbon? They've got the largest selection in NY. Rye? In addition to their own (which, apparently, kicks all kinds of ass), they've got a hefty amount. The gin is stored in a bath tub, seen in the picture above. There are tastings every day, Chartreuse VEP when I went.

I was duly stunned. My gast was flabbered.

I don't have the space to go into everything they do, or everything they have. Go to the website, browse around, peruse the gallery and their selections. Plonk yourself on their mailing list. And for the love of King Arthur and his Knights, embark on the quest the next time you're in NY.

The Ines Cocktail

First, a big huzzah!!! to Paul for hosting a deliriously fun Mixology Monday. I haven't had time to browse through all the blog love, but somewhere in between this post and compiling my recipes into book format, I plan to.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've got a backlog of drinks I'd like to write about, starting with one of the weirder cocktails I know. This one, like so many others, was introduced to me via Ben Dougherty at Seattle's iconic Zig Zag. It graced the menu at Union for a hot second, until the seasons changed and found itself elbowed aside.

The history behind The Ines Cocktail is slim. All I know is that it won a 1982 bartender challenge in Portugal, whipped up by Alain Nevers of France. Ben found it in an out-of-print cocktail book, then made one for me.

1 3/4 oz gin
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz amaretto

Stir, strain into chilled cocktail glass
Add one green olive as garnish

After Ben made it, he watched me taste it, furrowed his brow and said something like "it's pretty interesting, isn't it? It's good..."

Interesting is a good word for it. It's an odd little bugger. The combination of Amaretto and gin and an olive seems to throw people off, yet it works, darn it. Something about the sweet-almond flavor of the Amaretto and the saltiness of the olive creates an ethereal flavor I've never tasted in a cocktail.

Just about every bar has the ingredients (Christine even had me instruct a bartender at a casino how to make one). Rather than buying Amaretto for this one drink, I'd recommend you jot the recipe down and teach your local bartender how to make it. It's worth the effort.

Drinks like The Ines are hopefully what this site can be about....saving really good cocktails from the scrap heap.

My Pink Elephant

Been far too long since I threw an entry down, or even trolled through the ever-growing cocktail blogosphere. There are quite a few reasons (excuses?) for that, one of which dovetails slightly with todays Mixology Monday theme. First, the weather in Seattle has been, in a word, sweet. We just don't get that many spectacularly hot and sunny days here. It's kind of hard to be home and blog when the weather is so nice. And second, I've just been flat-out busy either working or going out or recovering from going-out (my hooch intake during the summer borders on the ridiculous).

But really, Paul's public call as to why we blog couldn't have come at a better time. I've been stuck. Not that I don't have a backlog of drinks to highlight, but I've been stuck on the why I blog bit along with - more importantly - what I want my blog to be.

A little background on two elements which got me started blogging. About sixteen years ago, I read 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac and I, like thousands of other brethren before me, got the I-WANNA-BE-A-WRITER bug. I even went to Boulder, Colorado and graduated with a degree in writing from The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute, studying at the elbows of those same characters I read about in Kerouac's books (all of them except Jack and Neal, of course). I tried working on a novel, the title of which is now the title of this blog. After years of writing, I finally decided I flat-out don't have the stamina to complete my book. I ho-hummed my way around America for awhile waiting tables, looking for something else to tie my identity around, until one day I stood behind a bar and helped the bartender kick out Cosmos and Margaritas to a thankless rabble during a private party.


So, blogging is a way to get my writing chops back (gotta say, I'm feeling pretty rusty, too), and on a topic I really do love. But this is non-fiction, a completely different beast. Non-fiction requires a type of superior knowledge which often trudges toward education, and this is what invites the thousand-pound pink elephant into the room (ha! I love mixing metaphors). Skimming through the blogs, I'm always reminded how much everyone involved knows about cocktails, history and lore, spirits and bartending. Is there anything new I have to contribute? I don't know, really. I don't feel comfortable enough to be an educator. What I do know is that are a bajillion cocktails out there, some have been undeservedly put out to pasture, and my direction will probably focus on uncovering those which should get more love.

Ok, on to the blog love-fest...

Truly, I browse through all the sites I have listed, and keep them on there because I like them and want you to like and visit them as well. I tend to gravitate toward other bartenders, so Explore the Pour, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Drinkboston, Spirits and Cocktails, Jimmy's Cocktail Hour, and the Bottle Gang are the ones I usually hit first. But my biggest shout-out goes to the one who initiated this post and inspired me to try my own blog (and also the one I plagarize the most)... Paul.

Maybe it's because he's from Seattle and I'm a shameless homer... maybe it's because I have a black belt in kiss-ass and he is our host today... or maybe it's simply because he knows more than me and writes better to boot and has a unique talent to beat me to topics I want to write about. The updates are frequent and entertaining and inspiring.

The drink? The Ganesvoort Fizz. To be fair, I had noticed the recipe in Wondrich's book well before I read Paul's blog entry, but his unabashed enthusiasm for it got me off my ass. I wrote a little about it one of my earlier posts and eventually this little gem found its way onto the Union cocktail menu.

The Ganesvoort Fizz

2 oz medium-bodied rum
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz Drambuie
2 dashes Peychaud bitters

Shake, strain into a highball glass, top with soda.

Cheers everyone. I've got a barload of cocktail recipes coming up. Stay tuned.

And last but not least, should any of you fine bloggers come to Seattle, let me know... your first drink at The Zig Zag will be on me.