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on eggnog

During my lunch break Wednesday (New Year’s Eve) I went to the package store for a bottle of Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky, intending to take it to a gathering on New Year’s Day. On my way back to the office I ran into a former co-worker and we chatted about our evening plans. I mentioned that I was making eggnog, and she seemed surprised that anyone makes eggnog in their own home. It always surprises me when I find out that some acquaintance of mine believes that grocery-store eggnog in the paper carton is the real thing, or even believes making it is impossible (or dangerous) for mortals. Eggnog is a wonderful beverage, satisfying and tasty, almost a cold custard. I think it makes a fine dessert in winter months.

on Campari

A friend of mine, an accomplished amateur cook who is extending into cocktails, was recently introduced to Campari, and was so impressed he bought a bottle.

It was at the Portland restaurant the Screen Door (which serves a huge and delicious plate of fried chicken and sweet potato waffles), that Eric had a long drink they called the “Blanche Dubois”, described as sweet tea, freshly made lemonade, and Campari.

Campari is an Italian orange bitter, from the western area of Lombardy. It has a distinct red hue. Notes of gentian and orange peel are prominent in the aroma, and the taste is akin to grapefruit peel, with gentian and sweetness behind it. In the old days its beautiful red color was from cochineal, but that has recently changed to an artificial color1. It is said to stimulate the appetite, and I find Campari drinks best early in the evening.

The bottle label used to state that one needs to allow three attempts before realizing that you enjoy Campari. So, in the interests of making sure that Eric continues to develop his enjoyment of Campari, here are a few mixed drinks with Campari.

“Another mixture was toddy . . . “

Here in Portland Oregon we have been experiencing a week of winter the likes of which I’m told have not been seen since 1969. It is not the weather that one is accustomed to, having grown-up on the West Coast. It is finally beginning to melt this afternoon. I’ve had an enjoyable time close to the hearth, cooking and drinking, and making expeditions to grocery stores for additional food and beer.

On Monday evening we greeted our dinner guests with a warm-me-up, this milk toddy. It is a creamy, spicy drink, and warming of the inner man.

Milk Toddy
in a mug, pour the following:
1oz Meyer’s Dark rum,
½oz Averna, and
½oz simple syrup.
Squeeze the juice from an eighth-part wedge of a lemon, and drop it in.
Pour over about 3-4oz boiling water.
Add 1oz heavy whipping cream, and stir
Finish with a grate of nutmeg.

Searching Google for references to the milk toddy, I came across this passage, from a 19th Century local history.

Another mixture was toddy. The rum was put into a glass tumbler ..and a quantity of loaf sugar added. They had an instrument called a toddy-stick. It was seven or eight inches long and about an inch in diameter at the lower end, with which they crushed the sugar and stirred it up, and water was added and a little nutmeg grated in. The ringing noise of the toddy stick against the sides of the tumbler was very musical in the ears of the drinker. It was sometimes poured into a bowl and the bowl filled with milk, which was milk-toddy.

from A History of Old Chester, from 1719 to 1869 (New Hampshire) by Benjamin Chase, available at GoogleBooks


It’s snowing in my fair city, hard.

Don’t think about using a shovel when it looks like this, use a glass instead.


Watch out where the greyhounds go, don’t you eat that yellow snow. Pack the glass full.


Insert liquor “A” into glass “B”.


That’ll keep you occupied while the snow flies. We here at the North American Booze Council continue to bring you all drink recipies from Automatic Bizooty to Whiskeycone.

a quick spicy post (Mixology Monday)

Craig, over at Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments is hosting this month’s Mixology Monday. And he has declared the theme for December to be SPICE. Mixology Monday

This past weekend I attended the annual holiday open house at House Spirits. There, I was finally able to obtain (finally the label was approved and finally they found time in their production schedule) a bottle (alright, several bottles) of Matt Mount’s ouzo, made under the House Spirits Apothecary line.

Using this lovely Oregon Ouzo, I made this variant on the Alexander.

in a shaker, pour over cracked ice
1oz half-and-half,
1oz House Spirits’ Oregon Ouzo,
1oz (Mt.Gay Eclipse) amber rum, and
a dash simple syrup.
Shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.
Finish with a grate of nutmeg.

This is a pleasant, smooth, creamy, semi-dry, slightly anise-flavored drink. If you can obtain a suitably dry and pure tasting ouzo (such as the Oregon Ouzo), I heartily recommend this lightly spiced drink.

(Old) Whiskey River (take my mind)

Like I said over there, my buddy Mark breezed into town with his dame on one hand and a bottle of bourbon for me in the other. This bottle had a guitar pick wire-wrapped to the slim neck of the bottle and a name on it – Willie Nelson – that echoed the name of the bourbon – Old Whiskey River. Just like Willie, it is smooth, bold and sweet. I had a glass of it right after one of my beloved Wild Turkey 101. It was milder, smoother, easier – but still flavorful. A nice contrast between the bold, rich, borderline harsh and the more tame of the latter.

This is not just a badge-engineered bourbon, however, oh no. Willie’s hand is at work in that the grains what go into this tasty bottle – corn, barley, and rye – are grown grown on independent family owned and operated farms located within 100 miles of the distillery. At a mild 86 proof it doesn’t pack a wallop that will put you out cold but the rich flavor and excellent mouth feel more than make up for it.

Like most of my go-to bourbons, this one clocks in at about $20/fifth. That makes this not only good value, but a fine salute to American farmers and a liquor with a lower carbon footprint. Dare I say this could be the most ecologically-sound liquor I’ve yet tried?

Willie, keep up the good work. This is a fine whiskey to put your name on, and we salute you for it.

Willie Nelson

Haus Alpenz Presents

While picking up a bottle of Creme de Violette for the esteemed Iconoplast (of HAVE A BREW. DON’T COST NOTHIN fame), my eye was caught by a number of liqueurs on the same shelf.  As it turns out, Haus Alpenz imports a variety of interesting spirits.  Trying not to get carried away, I picked up the aforementioned Creme de Violette, and decided to take a chance on two others: St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram (which immediately garnered the nickname Saint E’s) and Zirbenz “Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps”, which is essentially booze made from pinecones.

It was time for some cocktails.

Three of Haus Alpenz spirits

Three of Haus Alpenz spirits

Creme de Violette is the Higgs Boson of liqueurs, but I have been able to find a reliable stock at Marty’s Liquors of Newton, which has become something of an addiction lately.  It is the rarest of the ingredients to be found in The Aviation

1 ½ oz. Aviation Gin
½ oz. Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette
½ oz. lemon juice
1 tsp. Luxardo Maraschino

I prefer to add the Violette last to this concoction, letting its regal purple bleed into the cloudy mixture, like squid ink into an aquarium tank.  When all mixed, it becomes a cloudy, almost unnatural lavender, and left to sit this cloud condenses into the center of the glass. Letting it sit is for suckers.

The taste is sweet, but not sickeningly so, the lemon juice balancing out the sugary Violette while the gin takes over.  The Maraschino is there somewhere, but it’s certainly not obvious, and I’m wondering how the drink would be without it.  I’ve found some other recipes online with different proportions of these four ingredients, but the one above is the best tasting one I’ve found so far.

Next up was the Lion’s Tail

2 oz. Infusion Diabolique Bourbon
½ oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
½ oz. lime juice
a dash of Angostura bitters

Infusion Diabolique is a locally distilled bourbon infused with figs, cinnamon, and vanilla.  I rightly assumed that this would go well with Saint E’s.  The recipe also called for four dashes of simple syrup, but I had none on hand and was unsure of how to dash simple sugar anyway.

The resulting cocktail looked not unlike apple cider, the lime juice clouding what would otherwise be a translucent brown liquid.  The acid in the lime was all that was left of it upon tasting, as a wonderfully warm and inviting taste hit my tongue; earthy hints of cloves and nutmeg and cinnamon swirled around in my mouth.  It was not sharp or biting in the least, and the aftertaste called out to me, saying “I am what should be in your flask this winter.”

Onto the Zirbenz.  To be frank, I both feared and respected an alcohol made out of pinecones, and the scent from the open bottle did nothing to change either of those attitudes.  It smelled like pine all right, but had a strange sweetness that was evident in the taste as well.  The color was reminiscent of pine bark, and the residue at the bottom of the bottle looked like it too.  Time for an Alpine Sidecar

1 oz. Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps
1 oz. Patron Citrónge
1 oz. lemon juice

I hope you’ll excuse the replacement of Citrónge for Cointreau here; I don’t necessarily mind paying $40 for 750 mL of booze, but I do mind paying $40 for 750 mL of what is essentially triple sec.  Citrónge is half the price and has the same alcohol content if not the same taste.  Zirbenz replaces the brandy in this sidecar making it Alpine in nature, and giving a vaguely pink tint to it.  The result?  Decidely drinkable, but not particular noteworthy.  It tasted like lemonade with a bit of a kick, and not much more.  This probably wasn’t the best cocktail to try out the Zirbenz with, but I was a little timid with it this time around.

The Imbiber’s 100 (Ouroboros)

Over at Art of Drink, Darcy has put together a list of One Hundred Drinks Any Serious Imbiber Ought Try (At Least) Once [100DASIOTO]. It’s a little scattered, but a good list of beverages that represent a reasonable basis for commonality.

Those that I’ve tried are in bold, below (80 of 100). Maybe I should be fitted for gills.


analyzer? I ‘ardly . . .

quick shots

Last night I went out to Ten 01, where Kim joined me, and we enjoyed a beautiful plate of charcuterie with a couple cocktails.

As I talked with Kelley, we discussed a bottle of Bitter Truth Celery Bitters that he just obtained from LeNell’s. He offered me a dash of it on my palm, and recommended rubbing my hands together to inhale the aroma. It is a very compelling balance of celery seed supported by corriander, with a little lime peel underneath. I have got to get a bottle of this—it is beautiful1.

Kelley also offered me a taste of the Bols Genever. This is a genever that is being re-introduced to the American market this fall2. The aroma is primarily malty, and has hints of juniper and cardamom. It has a rich mouthfeel, almost oily vicosity, and a mellow malty flavor. This article from Mixology Magazin für Barkultur talks about the history of this new old product. I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle of this!

1. Kelley has a drink on the upcoming cocktail menu that pairs the celery bitters with an unexpected ingredient. I would not have guessed that it would work. But he mixed one for me, and it inspires me to get more familiar with that ingredient.
2. Some of the other cocktail bloggers around were able to attend a launch event in San Francisco (Drink a Week, Bibulous. Allow me to register my jealousy, even though my month has been tightly booked.