Ladies and Gentleman, The Washington State Bartenders Guild

Sometime this last summer, immediately after my wedding, I began talking with Seattle bartenders about getting together and forming a collective, a Guild actually, similar to what Oregon had just formed.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one who had been thinking about this. So it was, in late August, several of us gathered at Liberty and began hashing out what a bartenders guild could be.

Months of bickering and EARLY Sunday morning meetings (why we chose Sundays, I'll never know) later, I'm pleased to announce the formation of the Washington State Bartenders Guild.

You can check out our Mission Statement and Obejctives here. Also, you are welcome to attend our innagural event, a Kick-Off Party whose details can be found here. Please RSVP for the party through the Evite page.

Over the last several months, I've had the joy of getting to know several great bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts around town, and I'd like to use this space to thank them for dragging themselves out of bed every Sunday to participate, as well as to announce the provisional officers of the Guild.

Andrew Friedman, our President and owner of the wonderful Liberty on Capital Hill.
Will Rathler, Secretary and bartender at one of my favorite bars in the world, Sun Liquor.
Andrew Bohrer, Secretary and author of caskstrength
Casey Robison, Treasurer and bar manager of the soon-to-be-open cocktail lounge/restaurant Barrio (stay tuned!)
Kevin Langmack, Treasurer, bartender at both Sun Liquor and Spur (!), also writes the most irreverant blog I know.
Zane Harris, bartender at Vessel
Jim Romdall, bar manager at Vessel
Anu Apte, bartender at Vessel
Erik Chapman, bar manager at Sun Liquor
Jamie Boudreau, cocktail whisperer at Tini Biggs
Dave Nelson, bar manager at Spur
Erik Hakkinen, bartender at Zig Zag
Charles Munat, who created our lovely website and produced Left Coast Libations, a collection of cocktail recipes.
Robert Hess (Drinkboy and Small Screen Network)
Paul Clarke (Cocktail Chronicles)
Tara Last-Name-Unknown from Viceroy (apparently going to be re-named Rob Roy)

And yours truly, Veep and bartender at Union.

As long as I am handing out thanks, a special thanks to Daniel Shoemaker and Lance Mayhew of the Oregon Guild for all their advice and encouragement. Hopefully, we can join forces and take over the entire world.

I should also mention, please stay tuned on either Facebook (if you haven't found me there yet, please do) or the WSBG website for our first seminar, a reprise of the absinthe forum staged at last years Tales of the Cocktail, featuring the incomparable Gwdyion Stone and Paul Clarke, date and place to be announced (we're thinking December).

In a World Gone Soft, Someone's Got To Be Hard

Just so we're all clear, the key to the phrase "guilty pleasure" is, well the guilt. As in, "dang, I'm loving this, but really, I shouldn't, because there are people watching, people I know. Oh, I'll wait until they go away...."

I don't have guilt, folks. I loves what I love. Part of the beauty of approaching 40 is that, well, the things that you used to fret about just seem trivial now. At 40, you're getting an appreciation that life is both long and too short, and certain things just don't matter.

Like, ahem, other people's opinions, at least when it relates to me. Meh. Shrug.

So, okay, that's settled; guilt schmuilt. I wear my pleasure on my sleeve! (go ahead, insert your snarky joke here).

But Stevi has a fun topic for this Mixology Monday, so pardon me while I climb off my high horse and join the party.

What am I bringing to this party? Let's open the cooler and take a peek.

Jagermeister and Cheap Beer. Because I know damn well Jeffrey Morgenthaler isn't going to bring enough. Know why? There's never enough of the sheer awesomeness of Jager. Oh, and I brought the makings for the one true Jager cocktail.....

The Red-Headed Slut
1/2 oz. of the Jag
1/2 oz. of cranberry
1/2 oz. of peach liquer (no schnapps.... we're not freakin' savages over here!!! leave the schnapps for that poor sap with the backwards baseball cap slapping high-fives over something moronic, like "dude, like, you know. wooohooooo. Dude, wow, dude."

But Morgenthaler already nailed these beautifully, so we'll move on. At the bottom of the cooler, just so you greedy heathens don't swipe my stock is.....

So, the picture? That's Christine and I on our wedding day, obviously, and what am I holding in my mitt? The good stuff, hombre. And that look on my face? That's me trying to comprehend the sheer enormity of majesty and grandeur that is Mike's Hard Lemonade on a summer day. Know what? Couldn't do it. The human mind cannot fathom spectacles such as these.

Here's the thing. Mike's Hard Lemonade quenches your thirst so thoroughly that you're thirsty again (kind of the same way that Roadhouse is so bad it rounds the corner and achieves greatness). So you knock back another to quench the previous thirst. I can drain a six-pack in about an hour and feel fine. Warmhappyglow kind of fine. But I'll still be thirsty!!! You can't put a price on that kind of genius.....

Oh, need a cocktail? Well, here's the link to their mixology page. Good luck. For me, of course, that'd be blasphemé, but knock yourself out.

And, of course, they're based out of SEATTLE!!! Nobody expected world domination from the Pacific Northwest, but I'm telling, we're amazing out here..... Mike's is further proof.

Fish House Punch

There's a little place just out of town,
Where, if you go to lunch,
They'll make you forget your mother-in-law
With a drink called Fish-House Punch.

So I'm late. The title of this here blog refers to my, speed, my life. And I'm a fairly busy guy, just like Boudreau....

Anyway, feeling stupid that I didn't get my submission in on time for this month's MXMO, and heading over to, I noticed nobody wrote about Fish House Punch!!! Well well well...

Ted Haigh, aka the wonderful Dr. Cocktail, wrote an evocative piece about Fish House Punch in the September/October edition of Imbibe, so maybe that's why nobody tackled it. Who wants to follow up on Ted Haigh? Me? Not really. For the most part, he nailed it, offering history (the recipe originates in 1732, making it older than the nation itself), personal experience (drinking the punch at a ladies house who eliminated everything but the liquor) and a sense of time and tradition (autumnal rhapsody demands a drink "of ancestors and history").

I don't have that much to add. What I can say is that it is enjoying a healthy renaissance, popping up on cocktail menus around the world (1806, and Death & Co to name two), and that it works as a solo cocktail, too.

Fish House Punch
3/4 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. Cognac
3/4 oz. peach brandy
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake, strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and a single cherry.

I lifted the above recipe from the 2007 edition of the Food & Wine cocktail guide. I've been serving this at Union for over a year now, and the reception has always been favorable. If you'd like to try it as it's meant to be tried, I give you David Wondrich's adaptation from an 1862 recipe by some dude named Jerry Thomas in his recent book Imbibe.

1 pint fresh lemon juice
1 pound Demerara sugar
3 oz. peach brandy
27 oz. cognac
18 oz. rum
3 quarts water

He also gives his own individual serving along with some great backstory at Esquire.

There are some cocktails dredged up and respected simply because of their age and pedigree, and there are some that have withstood the test of time because, well, they're delicious. Fish House Punch falls in the latter category.

Lavender & Cucumber Sour

Here it is, early September, and I still haven't gotten around to writing about the cocktail that most impressed me at this summers Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans (aside from the refreshing Bud Light I shared with Rocky Yeh and Jeffrey Morgenthaler at the Hotel Monteleone pool). That award goes to Charlotte Voisey's Lavender & Cucumber Sour, sampled at the spirited cocktail pairing at August.

Okay, Charlotte Voisey. Let's get this out of the way, right now. She's beautiful. I can safely say this because I'm a happily married man, but look at her..... She's one of those people who, I think, probably has to fight against her natural good looks in order to be taken seriously in her career. Trying to talk to her, I got the feeling that might definitely have been the case. Anyway, the woman who is also the face of Hendrick's Gin is extraordinarily gifted, and this cocktail deserves to be published and admired on its own merits. Certainly those sitting with me at the table (including such luminaries as Rocky, Dayne and Wendy, and Anita and Cameron) agreed.

Lavender & Cucumber Sour

1 1/2 oz. Hendrick's Gin (what, you were expecting Boodles?)
1/4 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liquer
3/4 oz Sonoma Lavender Syrup
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 egg white
2 slices cucumber
2 dashes lavender bitters

Muddle cucumber with lavender syrup. Add Hendrick's and other ingredients and shake well. Serve over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice and sprig of fresh lavender.

La Rocio

Once upon a time, I worked with a guy at Union named Dave Nelson. Dave had worked his way from being a busser, to a waiter then to bookkeeper. But what he really wanted to do was tend bar.

What the hell he was thinking, I'll never know. But he worked a couple times for me and I showed him a few things I knew. Dave always has (probably always will, God bless him) been extremely confident in himself, bordering on cocky. After a few shifts, Dave declared himself ready to be a full-time bartender/mixologist. Eventually, he found himself doing just that at Campagne, a renowned French restaurant with a bar that sat something like 5 people.

Somehow, someway, within two years, Dave was asked to be the bar manager for a new gastropub called Spur. Dave threw himself into the task of opening the joint and has, within a few months of Spur being open, thrown himself into the mix as one of Seattle's better bartenders.

He's grounded in the classics (I like to think I helped hammer that into his head) but his own creations are amazingly inspired. Take his tequila drink currently knocking them out at Spur, La Rocio. He wrote it out for me, so I'll just copy verbatim what he wrote:

1 1/2 oz silver tequila
1 oz stone fruit syrup*
1/2 oz red wine
top with red wine foam**

"Chill rocks glass with ice. Shake tequila, syrup and red wine. Discard ice in rocks glass and fill halfway with red wine foam. Strain drink over foam into glass. When performed correctly foam should rise to the top without spilling over."

*Stone Fruit Syrup
1/2 qt rainier cherries
1/2 qt white peaches
1/2 qt plums
1/2 qt apricots
1/2 qt nectarines
2 cups sugar
3 cups water

"Boil water and add sugar. Cut, pit and juice fruits. Steep in sugar water for 25 minutes on low heat. Strain off ffruit and cool in fridge before serving."

** Red Wine Foam

2 cups red wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup simple syrup
1/2 tsp egg white powder
1 tbs methyl cellulose

"Blend all ingredients until creamy and foamy. Load into canister and add CO2 charge."

That's a lot to do for a lazy guy like me, especially when I can just beat over to Spur and have Dave do all the work (which I'm glad to do). Let's just say, though, that this is a revelatory tequila cocktail, absolutely delicious and goes down FAR too easy, which is a compliment.

I'm definitely proud for Dave and the kick-ass work he is doing at Spur and glad to share his cocktail recipe. It deserves to duplicated in kitchens and bars around the globe.

Oh, and the name? Apparently some hot chick Dave met in Argentina or Mexico and still has a red-hot jones over. . . perfect.

Look, Ma, I Made the Paper!!!!

. . . . and in the good section, too (The What's Happening section...quick aside, as just saying the phrase What's Happening reminds me of The Rerun Dance... sigh, I miss the 70's), and not the Front Page, which is definitely not where my mom wants to see me.

In any case, the Hemingway Daiquiri I once made for Leslie Kelly inspired her to include it in her list of the top 8 cocktails of this summer, appearing in this Friday's Seattle Post Intelligencer. For those of you who prefer to read their news online as opposed to buying a paper, you can find that article here.

Andy Rogers, the photographer, is a really cool and laid back guy, and I'm sure he's too busy with fatherhood to mind if I shamelessly swipe his photo for the blog, and since I'm encouraging EVERYONE to buy the paper, I'm hoping the PI doesn't mind as well.

Oh, and the Hemingway Daiquiri?

2 oz. white rum
3/4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/4 oz. maraschino liquer
dash of simple syrup

Shake above, then strain into a goblet (or Cognac glass) filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime twist and two cherries on a pick.

We Did It!!!

August 3rd, Seafair weekend here in Seattle, with boats plying the waters of Lake Union and seaplanes soaring overhead, Christine Nylin and I got married on the Skansonia Ferry. Words hardly do the experience justice. It was the greatest day of my life, and I'm humbled and lucky to be Christine's husband.

Some shout-outs are in order. . . Thanks to both sides of our families, to all who came and celebrated with us, to the staff at the Skansonia, to our photographer Erich Ruff, to Ethan and Angela Stowell for helping procure the booze, and to all at the Zig Zag, who hosted an extravagant and special after-party with all the class we've all come to know and love.

Finally, I'd like to thank our wedding party. Each and every one of you mean the world to us and all of you worked so hard to help make our day one we will never forget. I'd especially like to thank Kate Halfwassen, Christine's Maid Of Honor and Sean Twomey, my Best Man. You two worked tirelessly and took amazing care of us. We can't thank you enough, although we will certainly try, again and again.

To all who were there, whether bodily or in spirit, we raise our glasses to you. Thank you for the best wishes.

I'm Still Drunk!!!! Tales of the Cocktail, Day One

Dang.... That's two nights out of the last three in which I've woken up still drunk from the night before. I guess, if anything, that's a pretty decent return on investment, better than I'm getting in the stock market right now.

So, you've all endured the pain of drunk dialing.... making a mistake phone call when you're drunk and regretting it fully the next morning. I'm going to drunk blog. . . though I'm hedging my bets and posting here as opposed to the Tales Blog or Slashfood. I may be drunk, but I've still got some wits about me.

Okay, first, lets get this one out of the way. Rocky, Dayne, I love you guys, but fuck whichever of you brought me that absinthe frappé. It's now 8 a.m., two hours until I'm due at TOTC, and I'm still buzzed up. This isn't promising. Maybe for you guys, and everyone else, but not for me.

Now that that's off my chest, I'm going to unload my notebook from Day One at Tales Of The Cocktail.....

First, Christine and I got loaded the night before I left. Went out and pinballed around town, got food at 611, then went to the Saint, Liberty, Sun Liquor and finally back to Union (I'm too drunk to put links to all these, Google it yourselves, and that's just going to have to be true for the rest of this post). Got home, then woke up a couple hours later to finish "packing" so I could fly to NOLA. Well, being drunk from the night before, I forgot to pack extra pairs of shorts and shirts. The shirts I did pack look exactly alike, so now everyone at Tales is going to think I'm wearing the same clothes everyday, which will only partially be true.

Interjection: the coffee down south absolutely sucks!!!! You're going to hear a whole lot of bitching from the PNW guys about the lack of quality coffee.... ignore us at your peril....

SOOOOOOOO, being tired from sobering up while traveling, I missed out on the blogger party and was quite glad I did. I was able to make the very first session of Tales and all the subsequent panels I wanted to get to and was reasonably lucid and able to retain most of what I learned. Probably. Guess we'll find out when I try to write coherently for the Tales blog or Slashfood.

Highlights of Day One? Number One, meeting and partying with my fellow bloggers. This was and still is the one thing I wanted to do this week. As much as I read and love Degroff, Wondrich, Regan and everybody else, I think I still learn more from the collective blogging community than I do from my collection of books and authors. Yeah, I'm drunk, but I will happily stand behind that statement any day. I was (and still am) thrilled to meet the cocktail bloggers. And I'm looking forward to a few more nights like last night....

Other highlights? All three panels I attended yesterday were great in their own way. I'll write about these when (if) I sober up. I'm really looking forward to getting a chance to write about the sparsely attended first panel of the day, moderated by Doug Frost.

I got to meet David Wondrich, who is a great and charming guy, the kind of guy you'd like to drink with (I mean really, is there a better compliment?), Martin Cate, Robert Hess (funny that I should finally meet Robert in New Orleans rather than in our mutual hometown). I'm far too shy to introduce myself to Degroff or Regan, though given enough to drink anything is possible. Oh shit, yeah, I met Chris McMillan!!!! On my julep post, I provide a link to his Youtube video, and if you haven't seen it yet, I have no idea why you're even reading this blog!!! Chris is just the most gentle, humble bartender you're ever going to meet. He's a bartender's bartender, which is the second best compliment you can pay someone, and yes, I would LOVE to sit down with Chris and have a cocktail and listen to him spin New Orleans history all night, so now I've given him my highest compliment. I hope I get a chance to spend more time with him, as he is truly remarkable.

The Tales reception/Beefeater hoohah was fun, though a little crowded. Rocky, Dayne and I skipped the rest of the evening festivities and went to Cochon for dinner, which was pretty awesome. Those two know how to eat. Rocky has some pornographic pictures of the food we ate, if you're curious, and I'm sure he'll put some up for public drooling on his Flickr account. I remember lots of eating, lots of shouting, and lots of laughter, which in my mind means a perfect way to spend an evening.

Then, some bastard handed me an absinthe frappé at LaFitte's. And now everyone gets to read a drunk post from Slowpoke Rodriquez, the slowest mouse in all of Mexico (btw, this is how I always think of/refer to myself when I'm hungover or still drunk from the night before). It's going to be a long week....

That's all I have. You've been briefed. You've been drunk blogged.

You're welcome.

See you tomorrow. If I'm lucky.

MXMO, Say Hello To My Little Friend

Oh, the Mint Julep and I go way back. Waaaaaaaaay back, let me assure you. Let's see, there were the garden Juleps in Boulder, Colorado in college, rooftop Juleps in Chicago, fire-escape Juleps in New York, barbeque Juleps in Brattleboro Vermont. . . I'm missing a few, but you get the idea. The Julep and I have been buddies for a long time now. I even named a cat Julep. This year, however, has seen a different spin on our friendship.

Thing is, my old buddy Julep and I, we never really got to know each other. Or, rather the Julep got to know me but not vice versa. I'd heard stories, of course, and figured my friend Julep was birthed on the front porch one humid evening in the deep south, and had become the official drink of everyone who had a drawl. Then, I happened upon THIS VIDEO. It was like being invited to your best friends house and getting to see their childhood pictures. Suddenly, I had history, a back-story. And with it, a whole new appreciation for my friend.

To honor my friend, I thought I'd throw a party, to coincide with Derby Day. Ethan gave me the go-ahead, and I started preparing. I made up a few, found dozens listed in Baker's gem, a few more in Saucier's, and within a week I was staring at a dozen variations of my friend.

Then, a number of things happened. First, Jamie Boudreau was planning on having the same party at Vessel. Second, Julep cups are expensive!!! Third, it dawned on me that I didn't have any resources in case it proved to be wildly popular, meaning I'd have gotten drowned with no one to bail me out. So, much to more than a few peoples chagrin, I dropped it.

Derby Day passed, I did end up making quite a few Juleps for people who had heard the rumors. Belatedly, I posted an ode to my friend at AOL. And now, with MXMO featuring Bourbon (big thanks to the Scofflaw Den for hosting), I get to lead my friend to the front of the stage for another bow.

The Mint Julep recipe? Ah, watch the video link above for one version. Everyone seems to have their own idea. Instead, I'll lay out a few recipes I developed for the Mint Julep party at Union:

The Duwamish Julep
6 mint leaves
dash of simple syrup
2 oz. of your preferred Bourbon
3/4 oz blackberry liquer (I used Clear Creek)

GENTLY muddle 5 of the mint leaves with the simple syrup in a double rocks glass. Fill glass with crushed ice, then slowly add bourbon and blackberry liquer. Do not stir. Garnish with remaining mint.

Windemere County Julep
Same as above, only substitute blackberry liquer and simple syrup with Applejack and maple syrup

And, my favorite, the Georgia Mint Julep
substitute blackberry liquer with peach liquer.

Now, I know historically the Georgia Mint Julep comes prepared with brandy, but hit it with bourbon instead. Dayum!!!

If I'm not mistaken, I believe the next MXMO will be in N'awlins. . . no? Can't wait gang....

The Swami

That's Tyler Moritz, drinking a Swami at Union (cellphone pic by Rocky). Tyler is the chef de cuisine at Union, extraordinarily talented (for all you boozehounds out there who have only stopped by Union for drinks, allow me to slap you around a bit, as you NEED to eat some of Tyler's food. It's affordable, it's award winning, it's unique in this city. Good booze/cocktails, good wine, good food. . . c'mon and belly up to the bar and EAT!!)

As I've mentioned before, the chefs at Union have sensitive and discriminate palates. They are quick to point out the duds. The hits just get downed really fast. An empty cocktail glass remains the best rubber stamp of approval I know of.

So here we have The Swami, an original of mine, one of very few originals I've posted about. You can't tell in the picture but it's green. It has some refreshing spring flavors, except that spring and summer have apparently passed Seattle right on by. If this weather goes on much longer, I may have to move to New Orleans instead of just going there for Tales. Not that I'm, ahem, getting bitter about the weather or anything. I mean, gosh, who doesn't love chilly, wind-driven, gloomy and overcast summers . . .

The Swami. I foresee sunshine. Someday.

2 oz. pisco (I use Capel)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz green Chartreuse
a splash o' simple syrup
a dash of Fee's grapefruit bitters

Shake, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a few dried rose petals, or, heck, nothing at all. It's all the same between friends.

Casey's Last Stand (Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Blue Blazer)

The Blue Blazer. The Blue frickin' Blazer. Dave Wondrich did one on national television for Conan O' Brien. Yes, I get that it's Jerry Thomas and I have an abundance of respect for this trailblazing bartender. . .

BUT. . .

I want to hate this drink. I want to dismiss it and put it out there with the rest of the show-pony flaming drinks that were all the rage at the same time as cocaine and Fuzzy Navels were all the rage. Seems like everybody has been so busy fawning over JT that to slam any of his creations seems like it'd come across as blasphemé. But c'mon, this is flair bartending circa 1894, and we're talking whiskey and water. The only reason we talk about it is because it's on fire. . .

. . . you see, I struggle with the respect issue, particularly working at a restaurant. Decades of showboating a-holes flipping bottles, speed pouring ten shots at a time, stupid names like the Woo Hoo, Adios MFers, Oatmeal Cookie shots. . .oh, and let's not forget the ubiquitous 'tinis . . . let's just leave it at this; it takes more work than you'd think to become a respected bartender because there are years of gravity working against you. . .

. . . and yet I'm still talking about the Blue Blazer and maybe I am still talking about it because it's on fire and maybe I'm not. You see, Casey, an extraordinarily talented young bartender, texted me and said it was his last night at Café Presse and I should try his Blue Blazer. The video here, a cellphone capture, shows him in action. The flavors, actually, were just fine. In fact, it was tasty.

So I owe Jerry Thomas a bit of an apology. Yeah, I'm kind of tired of him right now, just a little too much exposure, but that's not his fault. And yeah, I have to begrudgingly give it up for the Blazer. Fine. I'm gonna have to find something new to rant and bitch about, I guess.


&^%@!!!! Double #$%^!!!! %%$#@@%^%!!!!! With peanut butter on top!!!!! Like, this kind of @#@$$#@!!!!

Can't believe I blew this Mixology Monday. I've missed a few, but this one. . . . ? This one especially, because lordy lordy have I fallen head over heels for RUM.

It's all I drink anymore. Zaya, Matusalem, El Dorado, Flor de Cana, Pampero Anniversario, Zacapa, Pyrat, Appleton. Oh, and the cocktails? Don't even get me started! Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktails, Corn-n-Oils, Missonary's Downfalls, Mai Tais, Philadelphia Fish House Punches, Planters Punches, Nui Nuis, Cantons. Mojitos, Papa Dobles, Test Pilots, Ancient Mariners. . . it seems like all I ever wanna make at work these days. I've even made my own Tiki Bitters!!! (The picture? My Tiki Bitters Batch #1 at rest.)

I blame, like so many others, Beachbum Berry. And I'll blame Trader Tiki, too. And Craig, and the Kaiser, and Wayne Curtis and the Rum Dood. Most of all, though, I blame a small, beloved little bar I'd kill to work at. . . Sun Liquor.

You kinda have to be in the know to know about Sun Liquor. Visiting Seattle, there's absolutely no way you could just happen to walk past it. Either a local has to take you there, or, as happened to me, enough credible sources have to rave long enough to get you there.

They specialize in sipping rums there, along with a few original rum-based cocktails. When Christine and I first rolled in, I was amazed at their rum menu. At the time, it never occurred to me to sip rum like you would bourbon, scotch, brandy or scotch. My history included the all too familiar scenario of topping off a jumbo slurpee with Bacardi and regretting it for 15 years. So who in their right mind would want to sip rum. Straight, no less!!! Thought I'd better get me an education and the bartender that night decided to introduce me to this dark and wonderful world by pouring me a glass of Zaya.

God bless him. I've been swooning ever since. Even got the kitchen crew at Union hooked on rum. Same with 2007 Food & Wine Best New Chef nominee Ethan Stowell.

So, while I'm howling at the moon at Sun Liquor this past Monday, gettin' my rum on with Christine, Ethan and some of the crew of both Union and Tavolata, Kevin at Sun Liquor leans across the bar and asks, "Did you put in a post for Mixology Monday?"


Little Italy

Has it really been that long since I lasted posted? Boo! Well, shoot, let me throw in a cocktail I've been making at Union which is getting some curious looks and satisfied grins.

This one is another in the long line of Audrey Saunders classics, and is on my list of favorite cocktail recipes listed below the Lebowski picture, part of a series I'll be doing here writing about those recipes. Like the Silver Lining, the Little Italy comes from the Food & Wine cocktail book series, this time from the 2007 edition (the '08 edition is now on sale and I'm looking forward to snapping one up soon. It's just a terrific series).

When I flip through a cocktail book or even a website, the recipes that usually catch my interest either have a new homemade ingredient I don't know about or combine a curious mix of ingredients I hadn't thought of. Cynar, being a hyper-bitter artichoke liquor, always gets me interested. Rye generally does as well. Put 'em together and yeah, I can't resist.

Here, the elements converge very nicely. The sweet vermouth knocks some of the edge off the Cynar, but not all of it, making this a Manhattan with a distinct bitter flavor that doesn't compare with anything I've had before. I've taken the liberty of flaming an orange twist in the drink and that addition seems to get favorable nods at the bar.

Little Italy

2 oz rye
1/2 oz Cynar
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 brandied cherries skewered on a stick
flamed orange twist

Stir the liquors together in an ice-filled mixing glass until cold, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the skewered cherries and flame and orange twist on the top.

Announcements and Such

First, I'm happy and honored to announce that I'll be participating on an all-star blog site, called Tales Blog, or Blogging Tales Of The Cocktail 2008. There are a few of us contributing, and on it we'll be previewing the events and participants of this spectacular event.

Now, if you read this site, I don't have to tell you, honestly, how awe inspiring Tales Of The Cocktail is. I missed it last year and have been regretting it. I'm telling you, I won't be missing another. Don't make the same mistake I did. Learn from my errors.

Still not sold? Let's play some word association, see if that doesn't amp you up. Okay, New Orleans. Cocktails. Spirits. History. Beachbum Berry. David Wondrich. Paul Clarke. Audrey Saunders. Jamie Boudreau. Gary Regan. Robert Hess. Julie Reiner. Simon Difford. Booze. Hooch. Giggle water.

Ahem. Tickets are on sale now. July 16-20, New Orleans. Clear your calendar. I'll see you there.

Now, more news, this one more personal to this site. As you can see, I've been messing around with the layout. New template, new pics, a listing of notable bars, Union's cocktail menu and a longer listing of blogs (you are reading through this list most days, right?). The upper right corner features something new, my recipes corner. Eventually this will include recipes for syrups, tinctures, infusions, bitters and such, so you can find quick access to these questions without having to dig through the blog. Right now, the recipe list contains my favorite cocktails as of right now, whether they've been featured on my site or not. This list will obviously expand greatly, and quickly. Each link will take you to the blog site I first heard of or discovered said cocktail, and acts as a personal repository where I can quickly find the cocktail I'm looking for, rather than trying to remember then digging through the blog. Hope this helps you as much as it will help me.

I think that's it for today. I've got to go apartment hunting now, plus plan for the wedding and finally spend time with my lovely lady.

The Delicious Sour

Continuing with my apparent recent theme of cocktails with silly names comes this little ditty with a very matter-of-fact name.

As a quick aside, there's a bar in Chicago whose name escapes me where the drinks have oddly literal names. One of their house cocktails is called The Refreshing Drink. I wonder what the other cocktails on the menu are called. Maybe they have drinks such as The Pink Drink, or The Drink With Too Many Garnishes, or The Fall On Your Ass, I'll Call You A Cab Drink.

In any case, when a drink is named something like The Delicious Sour, my first reaction is something along the lines of, "Oh yeah, well I'll be the judge of that, thank you very much." Well, in this case it happens to fit, as my customers always point out. "How your cocktail?" "Oh, well, it's (wait for it) delicious, tee hee hee".


This one comes from Ted Haigh's Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits. Dr. Cocktail got the recipe from an 1891 cocktail book called The Flowing Bowl by William "The Only William" Schmidt. In the Jan/Feb edition of Imbibe, Haigh goes on to point out that "The Only William" seemed to favor cocktails meant for the ladies. And yes, in my own experience, ladies have been the primary audience for The Delicious Sour, which is kinda bad, kinda good. Kinda bad that the guys aren't curious, kinda good because the ladies are ordering something other than Cosmopolitans and Lemon Drops, even better that someone is ordering an egg white drink.

The Delicious Sour
1 1/4 oz Applejack
1 1/4 oz peach liquer
3/4 oz lime juice
small dash of simple syrup
1/2 egg white

Shake shake shake, then shake some more. Strain without ice into a sour glass.

Given the ingredients, I'd have thought this would have been on the sweet side, but that just isn't the case. The flavors blend well and has the silky texture the egg white provides. The only thing missing might be a dash of bitters of some nature, and part of me believes it's probably just fine without it, though I may experiment.

In any case, it is delicious (see, I can't help myself either, tee hee hee), and I'm happy to have it on the menu at Union.

MXMO: The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

Death is upon the land and all those who tend it's soil. For thou hath summoned thine secret detonative device, The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Within it's casing liest a potion so fierce thou shalt not consume another, for if thouest request a second, thou will be blown up into tiny bits.


i can only keep up that prose for so long. Let's get right into the history of this deadly weapon.

Once upon a time, Union held a beer party. One of those beers was a potent bottle of Eku 28, a German Eisbock. I'll let Dr. Beer Love give you the full background if you're curious. If you're not, let me just tell you that the beer clocks in at 11% ABV (!). On our shelves, we always have on hand a bottle of Stroh 80, an Austrian rum proofed at 160 (!). We keep it exclusively for initiating new cooks (they do a shot, we all laugh, they fall down). Being bored one night, I came up with the idea of a boilermaker comprised of both, and called it The One and Done. I call up Rocky Yeh and he drops what he's doing and speeds down the interstate to try one. We wrangled on of the cooks to join him and the cook immediately, ahem, lost his cookies.....

Some time later, Rocky challenged me to come up with a cocktail using this ultimate demon rum. I put it together like an absinthe drip, combining it with lime juice, orange juice, simple syrup and Pernod. Ended up being not too shabby. Every now and then I'd drag it up as a shooter for daring party-goers wandering up First Avenue on their way to Pioneer Square or Belltown. Rocky again challenged me to come up with a shooter that could match a hilarious name, The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, killer of ferocious bunnies. I just dredged up the Stroh shot and, well, there was much rejoicing.

Finally, Rick has the idea of a Limit One MXMO, and I figured I'd haul this one up, but try and make it better. Having just visited Vessel and being enamored with Jamie Boudreau's Rubicon, I thought I'd try my hand at a little molecular mixology to add another layer of flavor. I bruleed some cherries on the bottom of the glass, mashed them and carmelized the syrup as well. Then came the shot of Stroh, a little orange and lime juice, some simple syrup and then, just to see what'd happen, I floated a 1/4 oz of absinthe. Then I handed it to the cooks, master tasters of cocktails. The cooks have a justifiable fear of Stroh, so I kept the ingredients a secret.

What started out as a joke has now ended up being a fantastically tasty cocktail, something I'd never have believed possible. Does it have a silly name? Yes, of course it does. But if you're a Monty Python fan, as I am, you can't help but laugh a little...

Behold...The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Introduction here by Monty Python, from The Holy Grail, one of the great comedies of our time....

We have the Holy Hand Grenade.
Yes, of course! The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch! 'Tis one of the sacred relics Brother Maynard carries with him! Brother Maynard! Bring up the Holy Hand Grenade!
[chanting] Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem. Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem. Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem. Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem.
How does it, um-- how does it work?
I know not, my liege.
Consult the Book of Armaments!
Armaments, chapter two, verses nine to twenty-one.
And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, 'O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that, with it, Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits in Thy mercy.' And the Lord did grin, and the people
did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu--
Skip a bit, Brother.
And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.'

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

Brulee 3 cherries on the bottom of a double rocks glass.
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker combine:
1 oz Stroh 80
1 oz fresh orange juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
healthy dash of simple syrup
Shake, dump contents into aforementioned rocks glass. Stir, float a dash of absinthe on top.

Ye Gods!!! Have one, and thou shalt be smitten. Two, thou shalt be smote.
Want to see the scene from The Holy Grail? Darn right you do!!


Silver Lining

I have a new favorite cocktail, just in time for my birthday. I got this one from the 2006 edition of Food and Wine Cocktails, an annual roundup of new cocktails from top bartenders and bars from around the U.S. The bar and bartender? Joseph Schwartz of Little Branch. The combination of rye, Licor 43 and egg white appealed to me, and in this case, it tasted even better than I thought it would.

Silver Lining

1 1/2 oz rye (I used Rittenhouse 100 proof)
3/4 oz Licor 43
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1 egg white
2 oz club soda

Shake the bejeezus out of everything, aside from the soda, and strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Top with soda water a little bit at a time as the foam rises quickly.

Hooo boy, this is tasty, one of the better new cocktails I've had in some time, and it's going on the menu as soon as possible. Think lemonade, meringue and custard without being sweet. Think rye along with that....

Ah, about Licor 43... this is a Spanish liquer composed of 43 different herbs and spices. Vanilla comes out most prominently. If you happen to have Licor 43 gathering dust in your liquor cabinet for whatever reason, give this one a shot.

Housekeeping and Updates

Some tidying up I've been wanting to do for some time has been finally done, and a few bits of news:

*Updated the blog log. On the left sidebar I've dramatically updated the list of blogs. Sites I've been reading that I haven't gotten a chance to add on to this site, along with some great sites I've only recently discovered. This is in advance of a post I'm planning on contributing to AOL about the wonderful amounts of spirits and cocktail information being generated these days on blog sites, along with a sampling of links. I won't be able to write about everyone as that post would be far too long, but I will be recommend that readers scroll through the blogs listed here and hopefully everyone will get a small spike in traffic and many minds will be illuminated.

*Updated the cocktail menu from Union. Jeffrey Morgenthaler used to have a PDF which highlighted the cocktail menu at his old bar, and I'm hoping at some point he'll do the same for his new bar. I would love to see current cocktail menus listed on the blog sites of bartenders as a permanent feature on their sites. I'm always intrigued by how other bars construct and diversify their offerings for their guests. On that note, I'll probably also put up a list of links to notable bars from around the world where their menus are listed, just to get everyone's mouths watering. . .

*As soon as the paperwork is processed, I will be moving from the AOL food and drink blog site to Slashfood, part of AOL Food Network and a great site I encourage everyone to check out, and not just because I'll be there eventually. They've got a host of talented writers over there and the entries come in fast and furious, so there's always something fresh to read.

*Okay, I have a question for everyone. There is one "drink" not listed on the Union menu printed on the bottom of the left sidebar which I'm thinking of adding on. I wanted to put on something called the Dealer's Choice. It'll be worded something like "you pick the booze, we'll do the rest, concentrating on utilizing seasonal fruits..." or something like that (not sure yet on the verbiage). Could putting something like this on a menu be considered a cop-out? I've considered having this as a permanent feature on the menu, just so it frees me up to use fresh fruit in season or whatever else I want to do. . .I do this anyway, as most bartenders do, suggesting to my guests that they just let us do something we're excited about, but spelling it out may liberate our guests from having to make any decisions (I'd say 75% just order what they know rather than branch out, maybe higher for Union since we get so many tourists who just walk in). Any and all comments on this would be very welcome.

*I need/want to re-design this site, moving away from the simple template. Does anybody out there have any suggestions for someone who is completely illiterate when it comes to website design and coding? I'm bored with my current layout and want to spiff the place up.

I think that's it. I've spent the better part of the last 24 hours reading through cocktail and spirit blogs and loving it. So much great stuff being put out there and I gotta say my guests are going to be bombarded this weekend with new offerings. Thank you in advance.

Ooooh, my aching liver

It's been a rough week, let me tell you, so rough it's taken me two weeks to write this post. A heavy night of boozing it up at Vessel's Fat Tuesday party, a spectacluar dinner at Union and horrible bowling at the Garage (along with some ill-advised Jagermeister forced upon me) made for an epic, Bunyan-esque hangover. But we're not going to get into that night....

You see, before she had to leave Vessel, Christine, my beautiful fiancee, managed to finagle a promise from me which I, in my Hurricane-induced glory, accepted. I promptly forgot, of course. The next day, wounded and battered, though, I had to make good on my promise to go with her to the Can-Can to see Zach.

Zach McCaffree is one of Seattle's best bartenders. He's built a spectacular bar from the ground-up, and the secret most in Seattle don't know is how great a drink you'll get from the man behind the bar in between cabaret performances (or, heck, even during). You want hooch? Zach's got it, with a selection second only to the Zig Zag. Cocktails? Zach knows them. He introduced me to this gem, which I enjoyed so much I've made a half-dozen for my customers in the week that followed. The cocktail in the picture above is a cellphone capture of it. . .
The Fort Washington Flip
1 1/2 oz applejack
3/4 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz maple syrup
1 fresh egg

Shake the mother-effin' crap out of it, pour into a chilled cocktail glass then grate nutmeg on top.

Now, how did this recipe slip past my radar? It was published on drinkboston, a site I usually read, plus Imbibe Magazine , which I also regularly read. The recipe comes from Misty Kalkofen from Green Street Grill, a bar I'm now inspired to fly across country to visit. Christine and I had several drinks, among them his own Ringmaster involving Averna, apricot-infused rye and something else (forgot/too hungover to ask, natch). If any of you from Seattle have not been to Can-Can, get there now and say hi to Zach for me (Erik, a bartender at Zig Zag, also slings drinks one night a week, another reason to get down there).

Speaking of Zig Zag (nice new site guys, btw), I can't be that close and boozing it up and not go there!!! So Christine and I stopped by, missing Robert Hess and Paul Clarke by mere minutes, apparently. Ben, Erik and Murray were all behind the bar, much to our delight. Murray had the chocolate bitters Paul raved about and Murray whipped up an unnamed drink using the bitters.

2 oz Mt Gay Xtra Old rum
¼ oz Grand Marnier
1/8 oz Cointreau
5 dashes Xococatl mole bitters

The next drink, though, really struck me. It's an odd one, which is usually enough to get my attention, but it also be danged tasty, enough so that I'm going to have to try this one out.

Friar's Pint
1 ¾ oz Plymouth gin
1 oz cardamon-infused Guinness (!)
¾ oz E. India Lustau sherrry (not sure if it's a fino or not)
dash Angostura bitters
dash simple syrup
1 egg white

Okay, now I just copied the recipe from Murray's notes off the back of a coaster (how many of us in Seattle have coasters at home with Murray's handwriting). I imagine you shake the bejeezus out of everything save the Guinness, dump it into a champagne flute (which is how he served it), then pour the world's most venerable stout over the top. I don't know. Perhaps Murray, who has been known to sometimes peek over at this space, can enlighten us. All I can tell you is that this drink cannot be just a one night stand. . . more research is needed (it always is, isn't it?). An absolutely inspired cocktail, and believe me, it didn't stand a chance as I got all Kimbo on the thing and knocked that sucker out within seconds.

I have to thank Christine for dragging my sorry ass around town, and thanks to Zach at Can-Can and Ben, Erik and Murray for another memorable evening.

Muh-Muh-Muh My Negroni

First, my apologies to the Knack for badly appropriating their one and only hit...

But anyway, the Negroni . . .venerable, iconic, on the rocks, served up, loved and worshipped, hated and contortion-inducing. . . there's just no coming down the middle on this one. So allow me, on this Mixology Monday, to add another layer of division.

Proportions are law for the Negroni. So says none other than one of our best and most beloved drinks writers, Gary Regan who, in the Joy of Mixology, says something to the effect that the proportions should be beyond tinkering. I'm going to go ahead and point out that the Negroni itself is a variation on the Americano.... ptttttttt. So let's go ahead and mess with this poor old venerable bastard.

I like Campari, and given that my taste buds are dead, I need to be hit on the head with flavor in my drinks. I like 'em rich and heavy, so delicate nuances are lost on me. Here's what I do. . .

Keith's Negroni Variation
1 ½ oz Campari (yup, that's right)
¾ oz Beefeater Gin
¾ oz Vya Italian Vermouth (I'm currently toying with Punt é Mes also. Verdict is still out)
2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters (gotta make it up to Gary somehow)

I figured if you ordered a Negroni, you've got a taste for Campari like I do, adding a little orange bitters just adds even more to the party. Vya is nice and rich. That's the Negroni I like to drink.

Turns out I'm not alone. Murray Stenson at Zig Zag makes his pretty much the same way, which is a nice little rubber stamp. And guess who else? Well, in his book New Classic Cocktails, Gary Regan (!) himself shows what an adaptable man he is by including The Cinnabar Negroni, which I have recently discovered is pretty much the same variation Murray and I do, among the chosen few in that book. And I have to add that of all the cocktails we make at Union, and I make quite a few, I get more compliments on this Negroni than any other drink we make. I don't know what that means, but there you have it....

Jimmy, great idea for a MM event. Cheers everyone, see at the party...

The Yeh Yeh Yeh

There's a man about town in Seattle, a man quite a few of those who manage to read this blog now and then know. He's a happy man (except when the Huskies lose), a smart man who knows a lot about a lot of topics (go ahead, I dare one of you to stump him in casual conversation), throws a mean Xmas party, graciously helps his bartender move, launches his bowling balls with more spin than you've ever seen, has a great pool game (though he mysteriously seems to flop against me... what can I say, I am nothing if not intimidating) he loves his food and drink, through which I'm lucky to know him.

He's all over the place. In fact, not only is this cocktail named after him, but he even took this friggin' picture and then drank it. How many of you out there have a drink named after you? Working or owning a bar doesn't count, nor does inventing the drink then naming it after yourself! I mean, how many of us will be so well-regarded that a cocktail will be named in our honor? Not only that, but a cocktail that kicks some serious ass, is ordered frequently then, just as frequently, re-ordered. Betcha' George Bush doesn't have a cocktail, either one of them actually. . .maybe a street, a public building or a library (kind of ironic in the case of Bush the younger, but every President gets one, even this one), but a cocktail? A good one? Yup, I don't think so, either.

So this is a really long-winded way of saluting my friend Rocky Yeh (who is also sometimes self-referred to as Rock Doggy Dogg) and his eponymous cocktail, The Yeh Yeh Yeh, which he orders as a Me Me Me (further exemplifying his bad-assedness in front of everyone). It's a good looking drink, packs a wallop (look at that dose of bourbon!!!) and is a solid drink for this time of year. The blond Lillet rounds off some of the harsh edge of the bourbon and the Rouge lends a sweetness at the end.

Take a bow, Rocky. The You You You is an excellent drink.

2 1/2 oz. Woodford Reserve (!!!)
3/4 oz. Lillet Blonde
Stir, strain into a cocktail glass
Slowly pour 1/4 oz. Lillet Rouge, so that it settles on the bottom, creating a layered effect.
Orange twist as garnish.

The way Rocky drinks it? Enjoy the top layer for a few sips, then stir the layers together.

The Best of 2007, According to Me, Your Benevolent Host

Everyone loves a good year-end recap/awards ceremony to ballyhoo the best of the previous year and feté those who helped make it memorable. I'm no different. Of course, I'm completely unqualified for this sort of thing, but whatev. . . Here's my list of favorites from the year that was in our nerdy little pocket of the Internet.

Best Cocktail
: Heck yeah I'm going to start with the best category!!! No slogging through Most Creative Use of Elderflower Liquer In A Cocktail or Obscure Ingredient Of The Year or even Least Annoying Shooter!!! Let's get right to the good stuff!!! My favorite cocktails?

Applejack Old-Fashioned
from Cocktail Chronicles (via Misty Kalkofen) a cocktail which found a place on our cocktail menu at Union. Gotta give props to Paloma Mi Amante as well...
Raspberry Caipirinha from Spirits and Cocktails, as well as the Chartreuse Swizzle, the Rosewater Rickey and the Berry Shrub. All of which I sampled at Vessel, all of which I loved. Great work Jamie.

Richmond Gimlet from Jeffrey Morgenthaler. I think this drink has been kicking around a bit, but I discovered it this year.

The Mojito from Married with Dinner. Okay, what Cameron and Anita did here was outline how Murray does his at the Zig Zag. But this prep was new to me this year and even though I'd never order it, now I can least make a decent one for myself!!!

Best Rant: I soooo thought I was a shoo-in for this one. But Darcy over at The Art of Drink completely eviscerates this cretin who wrote in, and, well, you just gotta read it if you haven't already...Darcy's response on October 17th in a piece entitled 'Fan Mail' is the funniest blog entry I've read this year.

Best Photos
: I'm not the only one who loves the pics over at Kaiser Penguin. Kaiser also nabs the award for best Tales of the Cocktails coverage.

Best Layout: I'm a huge fan of how Gabriel designed his site over at Cocktail Nerd. Nice and bright with flashy colors. Morgenthaler and Boudreau have great sites, and Dr. Bamboo's artwork is amazing, but for overall splash, Gabriel gets the nod.

Coolest homemade ingredient
: Lots to choose from. Falernum? Pimento Dram? Amer Picon? Berry Shrub? Gastriques? Perhaps Swedish Punsch, if/when Jamie gets around to it? I'm going with Amer Picon, but probably because that's what I'm making right now.

Best Disappearing Act
: Well, I thought yours truly would get this one, too. But heck, I'm not even close. Haven't seen the Bottle Gang in awhile, and Pegu Club is apparently on hiatus, but Matt from My Bar Your Bar (best blog title award too) hosted a great Mixology Monday event then promptly went MIA.

Best Mixology Monday roundup
: Lots to choose from, but I rather liked the way Gabriel did his. The mini-photos were great, even if I had the ugliest one there.

Cue the music, as that wraps it up. No need to thank the Academy. We're too liquored up to acknowledge anything.

New Post at AOL

Thought I'd pitch my new posts at AOl over here, just to add volume. I listed six books for AOL readers as decent places to begin to increase their knowledge on cocktails and drinks. Thought I'd open the floor and see if anybody strongly disagrees with my picks. I wanted to keep it at five, with my personal favorite (Dr. Cocktail's book) thrown in because I couldn't resist. Anybody else insist on a different top five? Keep in mind I was trying to suggest books for newbies to our field...ok, I'm ready, let 'er rip!!!