snow days & drinkies

across the rooftopscozy cat
where a cat should bestill snowing

I had various ideas for posts to put up this week, but then it snowed and everything went to hell. Which is basically what happens when it snows in Western Washington. Whether it’s half an inch or twenty inches, schools close, people stay home from work, grocery shelves get depleted, and Twitter and Facebook turn into unending streams of complaints and snow pictures. We stayed home, turned on the fire, and made cocktails.

It’s been a while since Jon has done much drink experimentation – we’ve been happy with our repertoire of drinks, with an occasional new addition. But the unexpected down time this week inspired him to try several new recipes. Here are the ones we tried (and lest this list seem alarmingly long, keep in mind we’ve had all week to get through these):

The Day Off

The Day Off

  • 1.5 oz bourbon (we use Bulleit)
  • 0.5 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist. (Note: the drink in the picture was shaken, not stirred, which is why it has foam on top. We recommend stirring for a clearer cocktail.)

Snowed In

Snowed In

  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz Averna
  • 0.5 oz Carpano Antica formula vermouth
  • 0.5 oz pomegranate juice

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Snow Day

The Snow Day

  • 1 oz rye
  • 1 oz Lillet blanc
  • 0.5 oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz triple sec
  • dash absinthe

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Jon’s note: “I think this one may still want a little tweaking. The concept is good, but the balance isn’t quite right.”

The Pitchfork

  • 0.75 oz aquavit
  • 0.75 oz Carpano Antica formula vermouth
  • 0.75 oz Averna
  • 3 dashes rhubarb bitters

Stir with ice and serve on the rocks.
Jon’s note: “This is my variation on the Trident, which is itself a variation of a Negroni. The Trident takes the Negroni recipe and swaps aquavit for the gin, dry sherry for the vermouth, and Cynar for the Campari, and then adds peach bitters. I’ve brought back the vermouth, used Averna instead of Cynar and rhubarb bitters in place of peach.”

Manhattan variation:  Averna instead of vermouth, and rhubarb bitters instead of Angostura. Served on the rocks, no garnish. This was nice.

Brooklyn variation: St. Germain instead of vermouth and Averna instead of Torani Amer.

And finally, my favorite discovery of the week: the Norwegian Sunset. Imbibe Magazine just posted this as part of their online newsletter and we made it immediately. It’s wonderful – the rich vermouth and amaro balancing the caraway of the aquavit. I loved it. Will make again.

Norwegian Sunset

  • 1 1/2 oz. aquavit (we used Linie, but we’re guessing that Krogstad would be even better)
  • 3/4 oz. Aperol
  • 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: 5 drops Regan’s orange bitters

Combine the aquavit, aperol and vermouth in a shaker and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the bitters.


nameless cocktails

On Tuesday of last week, we had driven to Issaquah to pick up my work from an art show and decided to go home by way of Seattle. We ended up in Capitol Hill exactly at 5 o’clock, just in time to get a seat at the bar at Canon, Jamie Boudreau’s new place (which is in the old Licorous location, btw). And if that weren’t cool enough, our bartender turned out to be none other than the legendary Murray Stenson, previously of Zig Zag Cafe. He said he had only worked half a dozen shifts or so at Canon, and he was still feeling his way around the bar, but it was a true pleasure to finally get to watch him at work.

The cocktail menu had some interesting drinks on it, but none of them seemed quite what we wanted. Murray pierced us each with a penetrating stare and asked a few pertinent questions (clear or brown? bitter or sweet?) After a short interrogation, he determined that what I wanted was a drink made with either bourbon or rye, bitter or herbal in tone, but soft and easy. He whisked away and poked around in the shelves, returning shortly with a cocktail. A version of the Currier (this was the only drink name we were able to get out of Murray all night), it had Buffalo Trace bourbon, Rose’s lime juice, fresh lime and kummel, a caraway-scented liqueur. Really interesting, balanced and complex.

Jon’s first drink was a gorgeous concoction of excellent rum and amaro and I forget what else. It was delicious. I have no memory of his second drink, except that I know it had Campari in it. Dang, I knew I should have been taking notes. I do remember that we had a plate of ricotta gnudi with kale and shiitakes that was truly delightful and paired rather well with our first round.


As we sat admiring the liquor collection, my eye was caught by the tequila selection almost immediately over my head. I asked if I could have something with tequila for my second cocktail, and Murray’s eyes lit up. “Oh yeah!” he said, and dashed off. The drink that appeared before me definitely had tequila and green Chartreuse, but I’m not at all sure what else. Some sort of juice, and a bit of lime zest. It paired perfectly with the Barron Point oysters we were eating.

Barron Point oysters

Needless to say, Canon is an amazing bar (dare I say, even on a night when Murray isn’t working). We are SO going back as soon as possible.


happy hour

happy hour

When you’ve just spent a substantial amount of time quietly freaking out about something, getting unexpected good news may well send you straight to the nearest bar to try to process the emotional reversal. Last week, after spending the afternoon at Virginia Mason Hospital and being reassured by a reliable source that my husband would most likely NOT need a horrible sounding medical procedure, we headed right for Barrio and began consuming celebratory cocktails, including one made of extremely ferocious ghost-chile-infused tequila. Plus a lot of their most excellent guacamole.

Then we went to Volunteer Park and sat together, enjoying the view.

Volunteer Park



For a long time I wasn’t really sure what a daiquiri was. I first learned of its existence from old Doonesbury comic strips, back when Duke was governor of Samoa and went through gallons of banana daiquiri. I thought it sounded exotic but disgusting, and never tried one. Recently I became aware that, while there are still horrible sugary-fruity-yuck versions of the daiquiri floating around, the original really didn’t sound that bad: just rum, lime juice, sugar. An actual drink for grownups: a little tart, a little sweet. Huh. We had a bunch of limes left over from our party, so one sunny afternoon I asked Jon to make me a daiquiri. He did. And it was good.

lime slice

Classic Daiquiri

Loads of versions out there, obviously. This one is from Speakeasy, by Kosmas & Zaric. It was tasty. And large.

  • 2 ½ oz Flor de Caña rum (or some other rum, but this is a nice light one)
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • ¾ oz simple syrup
  • 1 lime wheel for garnish

Shake the rum, juice and syrup with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lime wheel.

road trip to Cali

on the beach

We’ve just begun to recover from our week-long road trip to Santa Cruz to visit my brother-in-law. We spent two days driving south, a few days there, then three days coming back. We hit an astounding number of brewpubs along the way. Here’s a (rather long) photo essay of some of the week’s eats and drinks.

HopworksHopworks Brewery

We left Mount Vernon bright and early, with our first stop at Hopworks in Portland. It was pouring down rain (my feet got soaked just going the short distance from the car to the door), but the brewpub was bright and cozy and the Women’s World Cup was just starting. We could happily have stayed there all day, but we dragged ourselves away at halftime.

Ancho chicken sandwich

steak sandwich

blue cheese salad

The sandwiches were excellent, especially the chicken ancho, and the salad had chunks of Rogue Creamery blue cheese almost too big to eat. Plus their beer is amazing – I had a pint of Evelyn’s Sunshine Imperial IPA, which was badly needed after our drive through the storm.

Continue reading

elderflower descant

Elderflower Descant

We’ve missed the last few Mixology Mondays, for various reasons, but when we saw that May’s theme was floral cocktails (hosted over at The Barman Cometh), we made a special effort to get something together. There are quite a few floral-based cocktails we like, particularly the Deep Blue Sea (violet) and the Vieux Mot (elderflower). We thought it would be fun to come up with something new with one of those flavors, so Jon did some experimenting these last couple of weeks, then wrote this:

As Jessamyn has already mentioned, I recently got a copy of the very fine book Left Coast Libations.  While many of the recipes therein have immediately grabbed me, demanding to be made, other recipes have remained more aloof.

Case in point, the Pear Sonata.  I’m just not a big fan of dusting a drink with ground cinnamon, and even if I were, there’s no way in hell I’m going to make pear foam.  Pear foam?  Really?

However, after letting the recipe percolate in my mind for a while, I began to recognize that for all of its weird trappings, the Pear Sonata has good, solid bones to it.  Gin, St. Germain, dry vermouth, and lemon juice.  Nothing wrong there.  What if I were to tweak the proportions a bit, leave off the pear foam (really?), and let the St. Germain shine through?  It seemed worth a try.

I began with a base of Bluecoat gin.  Bluecoat, made here in the US, has quickly become one of our very favorite gins, with a distinctly citrusy note to it, which I thought would work well with the St. Germain, which I boosted to a full jigger’s worth.  Lemon juice and dry vermouth, and in a nod to the original Pear Sonata recipe, just a dash of Clear Creek pear brandy.

A twist of orange to garnish.  I find that I have grown very fond of using orange to garnish drinks containing lemon juice – it’s similar enough not to clash, yet different enough to add a little extra dimension to the drink.  And as I was about to present it, Jessamyn added her own touch: a single lilac flower.

Elderflower Descant

  • 1 oz. Bluecoat gin
  • ¾ oz. St Germain
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • dash Clear Creek pear brandy

Shake well with ice and strain.  Garnish with a long twist of orange and a lilac flower.

Elderflower Descant

the research continues

I have no idea what drink this was

We’ve continued on our recent kick of trying new cocktails, mostly from Left Coast Libations but occasionally dipping back into other cocktail references. The trouble is, if we don’t write down what we’re trying, we forget the names almost instantly. When I went through my photos from the last few weeks to see what I had shot in the way of cocktails, I found several – but I had only a vague idea of which drinks they had been.

Historic Core cocktail

This one I’m pretty sure was the Historic Core, created by Joseph Brooke in LA. It had Rittenhouse rye, apple brandy, Chartreuse, Carpano Antica vermouth, Angostura bitters and lemon peel. I remember it as being interesting but not riveting.

Don't remember this one, either

This one was a complete mystery to me. I liked how Jon zested the orange, but I had no memory of the drink itself. When I asked, he said it was a variation on a drink called an Ueno San, with rye instead of bourbon, cocchi americano instead of Lillet, orange bitters instead of peach bitters, and Carpano Antica. So there you go. I suppose we might experiment more with that one.

Maybe I should take better notes.

Fior di Sicily

Fior di Sicily

A heavy amaro, a bitter orange aperitif, a really good vermouth, and elderflower liqueur, all mixed together in a glass. This didn’t sound like a very likely combo when I first heard it, but when Jon put the drink together and gave me a sip, I was amazed. The word that comes to mind is comforting: sweet, spicy and deep. This is a drink that’s going to make a lot of appearances next fall. It’s definitely more than the sum of its parts.

Fior di Sicily

Fior di Sicily

From Left Coast Libations by Ted Munat and Michael Lazar

  • 3/4 oz Averna amaro
  • 3/4 oz Carpano Antica vermouth
  • 3/4 oz Aperol
  • 3/4 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • orange peel for garnish
  • Combine the spirits in a mixing glass, stir with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Flame the orange peel over the drink, then add the peel to the glass.

    tulips and corn dogs


    spring rainstorm

    The tulips are officially open up here in Skagit, and the annual Tulip Festival street fair came and went without any major disasters. The weather was a mite iffy, but there were enough sunbreaks to keep things lively and the traffic thick – and most importantly, it didn’t snow. We had to venture out onto the flats so I could tear down my photography and weaving displays at Pleasant Ridge Gallery, but otherwise we stuck to walking in town. We tasted curry sauce, admired handmade hats, and bought new hose guides from our favorite metalwork artist at Red Grass. It was too cold for ice cream, so we stuck to our primary mission of corn dogs.

    corn dogs and wine

    As I’ve written before, every year our local wine shop features a flight of Pinot Gris, available to anyone who walks in with a corn dog during the street fair. I personally can’t resist this, and the pairings are generally amazingly successful. Haven’t tried drinking wine with a corn dog? You should.

    fine dining

    Our corn dogs this year turned out to be oddly sugary, which was problematic with the drier wines, but we had excellent luck with a slightly oaky Oregon pinot gris – the oak and the sugar sort of cancelled each other out. Next year I feel like we should do a full testing of all the corn dogs on offer, though, so we can pin down the best ones ahead of time. Sugar in a corn dog is really weird.


    Unfortunately for Maggie the Wine Shop Dog, we did not drop anything.


    Toto cocktail

    Our cocktail repertoire has been stabilizing lately, after a flurry of trying dubious new recipes and wishing we’d stuck with tried and true drinks. Mostly we’ve been drinking Negronis, Brooklyns or Manhattans, with the occasional Spring Feeling or a straight Martin Miller martini – and we’ve liked it that way. But when we were at Oliver’s Twist the other day, they had a book on the counter that sent us completely out of our comfort zone.

    our latest acquisition

    It’s called Left Coast Libations, and it consists of short profiles of bartenders from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, along with two original cocktails from each of them. Several of these folks are people we’ve met and who have made us amazing drinks (I was especially pleased to see Casey Robison in here – he and his staff at Barrio have done wonders for our cocktail education – and one of the bartenders at Oliver’s was in there, too). While we sat at the bar, we flipped through the book and immediately began finding recipes we desperately wanted to try. We copied a few down, tried them at home, then bought the book the very next chance we got. It’s just that good.

    Not all of the drinks are going to be winners, of course. We tried one with gin and sherry vinegar that, frankly, went straight down the drain. I’m finding that peach bitters taste really disgusting to me and should probably be avoided. And I’m just not going to drink anything that has blueberries and lavender in it. But there are some really, really good possibilities in here.


    This cocktail, the Toto, was the first one we tried. It’s the creation of Kelley Swenson, currently running the bar at June, but who until recently was working at the now defunct ten01 in Portland. It makes me really sorry that the only drink I ever had there was a pear concoction with so much cinnamon on top I couldn’t taste the cocktail. I certainly should have given them another try, because the Toto is absolutely wonderful. We’re looking forward to working our way through the rest of this book.


    • 3/4 oz El Jimador or Cazadores reposado tequila (actually we used 1800 and it was just fine)
    • 3/4 oz green Chartreuse
    • 3/4 oz Cynar
    • lemon twist

    Combine the tequila, Chartreuse and Cynar with ice and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon twist. Serve up.

    chartreuse & cynar