Wet Your Whistle
There exists an old spice merchant proverb dating back to the early 21st century which, roughly translated, advises that “the better the cocktail; the better the party. The better the party; the better the friends.” E’er here to help, we’ve compiled some of our favorite reference materials on the topic. Serve these delicious, humorous, and historical (and of course, spicy!) signature potent potables at your holiday soiree for insurance on a years’ worth of favors from your party-goers.
“Let’s Bring Back; The Cocktail Edition” touts itself as a “compendium of impish, romantic, amusing, and occasionally appalling potations from bygone eras.” The recipes hail from two-hundred year-old sources, right up to the archives of 1950’s iconic restaurant bars. From chuckles to laughs-out-loud, the history and suggestions accompanying each cocktail will have you and your guests tittering for hours, a la, “think only pure thoughts while sipping [The Bishop],” or consume a Scofflaw to give you the courage to “Wear white after Labor Day… Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on Seafood Pasta… and all sorts of comparable acts of insurrection.”
“Savory Cocktails” is a slender little tome; an ode to all things sour, spicy, herbal, umami, bitter, smoky, high, and strong. These drinks are undeniably sexy – what a modern-day Don Draper might imbibe. They’re interesting and nuanced, and legions away from fru-fru – no neon-hued appletinis here! Sophisticated foodies only need apply. Try a subtle Green Tea Gimlet (I’d pick jade green Mao Feng to offset the lime), or a Dog’s Nose, made with, of all things, powdered porcini mushrooms in combination with porter and shaved nutmeg.
Though we love classic Mulled Wine and Eggnog, there’s so much more to winter-y cocktails than these two standbys. Enter, “Winter Cocktails.” Learn how to give hot chocolate a grown-up twist with lavender flowers and Earl Grey tea, or elevate your ski-lodge lounge with a “Rosy Cheek,” sprinkled with the rosy cheeks of cracked pink peppercorns. In addition to inspired beverages, this book also has a fabulous section on infusing alcohols at home – rose infused gin, anyone? Pair any one of these liquors or cocktails with their suggested finger foods. This is a one-stop-shop for great winter entertaining.
No list of cocktail books would be complete without a mention of the “Drunken Botanist,” shop best-seller and staff favorite since spring. As the name implies, this book unites the best of science and insobriety, leading an alphabetical nature walk from Agave to Strawberry and hitting all the best booze-making plants in between. Learning and jubilating skip hand-in-hand in this volume, the pages dotted with recipes for classic cocktails, as well as tips for updating old favorites in single servings and “pitcher” fulls.
Out of a workshop in Brooklyn comes “Shake,” self-described as “one part instructional recipe book, one part photo journey, and one part inspirational pep talk” for mixing spectacular cocktails at home. The approach is seasonal and straightforward, focused on simplicity, socializing, and, above all, fun! Our copy in the shop comes with the sweetest Mason jar cocktail shaker, pictured on the front of the book, for an automatic out-hipster of just about any one. (Pair with the “Art of Fermentation”– pickle it! for the win.)
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo like never before with this delicious cocktail. The hibiscus infuses a deep rich red color to this libation… Add a slice of lime and Sel de Mer to the rim of your glass and you have the colors of the Mexican flag! Almost cranberry in flavor, it’s got a “zing” that is enhanced by using silver tequila and the homemade spiced simple syrup. Tune in to the mariachi station on Pandora while you whip these up for an absolute fiesta!
Blending the tart flavor of sumac and the heady sweetness of rose, this cocktail tickles the palate with a full spectrum of flavors. As is so often the case, we perfected the recipe by happy accident and now consider it essential for any festive gathering. Pretty, pink and refreshing, Rose 75 is perfect for special occasions, cocktail parties or to ring in the New Year.
The first time I ever had a Lion’s Tail I thought it tasted like Christmas in a glass, and it immediately became my go-to libation of the holiday season. This classic cocktail offers up the perfect, winter warming combination of bourbon, citrus and spice that dances on the palate. We’ve played around with many twists on the original theme and are including recipes for the “classic” and “spice-lover’s” versions for you to enjoy.
True Allspice Dram is sometimes hard to find. If its not available in your area, or if you love a great infusion project, look for our DIY version coming soon.
The delicious comfort of drinking chocolate is ancient ritual. Both the Aztecs and Mayans believed cocoa to be a gift from the gods. This recipe may have changed a bit in the last 500 years, but the taste is still heavenly. Our Mayan Cocoa mix rests on a deep chocolate base with a mellow chile warmth alongside the intricate flavors of almond, true cinnamon and allspice.
Whisk together 2-4 tablespoons of Mayan Cocoa per cup of whole milk and heat to just below boiling. Hold at this temperature for a few minutes, then strain to remove any spice chunks. Sweeten to taste and enjoy!
As we all mourn the end of summer (say it ain’t so!) it’s easy to forget all the great things that fall has to offer: apple season, football season, sending those kids back to school, acorn squash, and pumpkins! There are a plethora of things one can do with a nice pumpkin, but one of my personal favorites is to brew beer. These days, my first indication that fall is right around the corner is getting that call from our friends over at Pike Brewing looking for some spices for their seasonal pumpkin ale. A few weeks later, nothing softens the blow of the shorter days and cooler nights like getting a taste of the first batch. It seems like breweries are everywhere today, and as the seasons change the shelves are just packed with options for pumpkin beer, some far better than others. I have to say that this is hands down one of the very best I’ve tasted, and having a lovely lady at home who adores pumpkin beer, I’ve tasted almost every one we can find. This makes me especially proud to say that I had a hand in helping our Pike Place neighbors with such a great product.
Anyone who has brewed a spiced beer can tell you being able to filter out the spices is a crucial step in the process, and anyone who has tried to get nutmeg to a roughly “cracked” state can tell you it’s not real easy. After lots of experimenting, research, and trial-and-error, we finally came to the conclusion that the simplest method of cracking nutmeg is the most effective, using a good old-fashioned hammer. We even keep a specially designated (and sanitized!) hammer around our warehouse for just this occasion, and this time I seem to have gotten caught on camera.
I could describe the Pike Brewing Harlot’s Harvest, but I couldn’t do nearly as good a job as their official press release. So as I wrap this up, I notice that it’s already five minutes past closing time on a Friday and time to open a Harlot’s Harvest for myself, since blogging is such thirsty work! So this weekend, if you’re putting in a tough shift on your own blog, or tailgating down at the CLink (go Hawks!), or however you choose to enjoy these last lingering days of summer, check out this great pumpkin offering from our friends at Pike Brewing.