We finally got out to Samish Island last week to check out a new addition to the local food scene, Golden Distillery. We had just stocked up on bread, cheese and salami in Edison and were heading for Taylor Shellfish in preparation for Christmas Eve dinner, so it made for an easy (and scenic) detour.
It’s a small operation, and the owners are happy to give you a tour of the premises. They grind, brew, distill and age all their ingredients on site, using entirely Washington-grown grain and fruit.
We met the distillery dogs, who take their job as greeters very seriously. And we tasted our way through the current lineup, which includes single-malt whiskey, several brandies and a white barley whiskey called White Gold. My favorites were the White Gold, which had a clean flavor and light burn, and the Cabernet brandy, which was just a nice smooth brandy, very easy to sip.
The apple brandy, which is made from locally grown Jonagolds, has a very different flavor from most apple spirits – instead of an overall essence-of-apples effect, it really does taste of Jonagolds. Interesting. The raspberry brandy is distilled from Pasek Cellars raspberry wine, something we used to like a lot but have lost our taste for. I gather it’s popular with many women customers, but not really my thing.
Over all, I think they’re doing some nice work. And it’s a good excuse to go driving out to Samish Island.
A bar in Seattle was recently reinvented (and by “recently” I probably mean, like, three years ago – I can’t keep track of these things). Once simply known as The Triangle, due to the shape of the building on its odd lot between diagonal streets, it now rejoices in the name 9 Million in Unmarked Bills. For ages I have tried to remember this name and have totally failed, falling back on “that place that used to be The Triangle”. But I know where the bar is, which is the important thing. They have a totally excellent “Prescriptions” sign over the bar, big round booths, fun happy hour food, and a really interesting cocktail list (except for the John Dillinger, which is just stupid – a shot of Bulleit and a cigarette).
The last time we stopped in I got something with tequila and cucumber – I don’t remember what it was called but it was very nice – and Jon, after much debating, chose a drink called a Brooklyn. It arrived in an ice-choked glass topped with a cherry, which didn’t seem promising, but he enjoyed the drink very much. When we got home he immediately looked it up and found it in Mr. Boston’s – apparently it’s a classic drink that we had simply never heard of or tried. We started making it at home, and it has at least temporarily pushed back the Brevity as the household whiskey drink. It’s like a Manhattan, but better.
The drink is really supposed to be made with a bitter liqueur called Amer Picon, which is more or less totally unavailable in this country. Since there’s only a dash of it in the cocktail we thought we’d just substitute an amaro such as Amaro Nonino. Turns out we’re not the first people to try this. Also, a lot of other recipes I’ve seen use dry vermouth, but Mr. Boston calls for sweet and that’s how we’ve been making it. I’m sure you could experiment.
This recipe makes a modest 2 ounce drink. You can scale up the recipe, or just make yourself another one when you’ve finished.
- 1 ½ oz rye or bourbon (good both ways but rye is traditional)
- ½ oz sweet vermouth
- 1 bar spoon of amaro nonino
- dash of maraschino liqueur
Combine all ingredients in a glass or shaker with ice. Stir and strain into either a cocktail glass or a rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry or an orange twist.
I can’t explain the way cocktails have eased their way into our lives this year. Not that long ago, I was still prefacing every mixed drink comment I made with “I don’t usually like cocktails, but…” and now suddenly we have a full cabinet of liqueurs and a Boston shaker. Hm.
We first met the Sazerac (the Official Cocktail of New Orleans) about a year ago, at Star Bar. Phyllis, our favorite bartender, had taken it upon herself that month to get as many customers as possible to order Sazeracs, just so she could have the fun of making them. Jon had been wanting to try one, so we were in luck. When she set the drink down in front of him (I believe she served it up, in a cocktail glass) we each tried it. We weren’t sure if we loved it, but we were definitely intrigued.
Later, when we finally managed to find some Peychaud’s bitters (had to order them online), we started experimenting with Sazeracs at home. One day, out of the blue, I discovered I love them. My preferred presentation is in a rocks glass (built in the glass), with just a couple of ice cubes, and a sizable lemon twist. It makes me happy. Who knew?
While helping my inlaws move this week, we came across this unusual item: a box containing two ampoules of Gogotine Scotch whisky, packed in Paris who knows how long ago. Our first reaction was, “what the…” quickly followed by “Huh. Do you think that’s safe to drink?” Of course, we’re afraid to find out. Anyone know?