Archive for the ‘Bars & Restaurants’ Category

Not Your Pappy’s Moonshine

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Last week I got a fun treat and joined Seattle’s LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of the Endangered Cocktail – love that!) group for a private tour of the Woodinville Whiskey Co. Talk about a perk to this blogging stuff!

Only open to the public for a few months, the Woodinville Whiskey Co. has been busy creating a boutique whiskey distillery not far from the Red Hook Brewery, Chateau St. Michelle Winery and many other booze-forward businesses in Woodinville. Owner Orlin Sorensen took about 20 or so LUPEC women through their facilities, let us peer into vats of boiling organic corn and rye mash, and gave us several samples to sip. While I was familiar with the basics of bourbon and whiskey, the tour went way beyond. I can’t do all of the information justice (a few bullet points are at the end), but tastings and tours are available to the public each week.

These barrels are in high demand by home and commercial brewers!

 While Boss Hogg pursued the Dukes of Hazzard for runnin’ moonshine, the distillery has accomodated us by launching Headlong White Dog Whiskey, an organic, unaged whiskey made with true bourbon mash but just out of the still…in other words, legal moonshine. Orlin described white dog as being to bourbon what white rum is to aged rum – rougher, sharper but still flavorful. Just for kicks, he used the white dog in a cocktail called the Green Trellis to demonstrate its mixability. You can pick up a bottle of Headlong at the distillery or at state liquor stores: How fun to tell guests at your next party that you are serving a form of moonshine!

Green Trellis (created by John Ueding at Trellis Restaurant in Kirkland)

3 slices of cucumber
10-12 mint leaves
1 ½ oz Headlong White Dog Whiskey
1 oz apple cider (they used non-alcoholic, but I think hard cider would also be tasty)
½ oz simple syrup

Muddle the cucumber and mint in a cocktail shaker, and then add ice and other ingredients. Shake well, strain and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass.

Orlin gave us a sneak peek, or rather sip, of their first batch of micro-barrel (5 to 7 gallons) aged bourbon. Very tasty. Plans are to release a new micro-batch of organic bourbon each quarter, so it will be interesting to see what more refined palates have to say about the releases.

Cutest cask ever (don't mention that to Dad).

Can’t wait to taste their results? The distillery is also selling its “Age Your Own Whiskey” kit, complete with a wee cask. The company says that the small cask size means the aging process is greatly accelerated, producing a properly aged whiskey in just 3-6 months. Too late for Mother’s Day, this kit could make a great Father’s Day gift for the whiskey lover in your family.

And although bourbon is clearly their passion, the distillery’s owners also produce an organic vodka to pay the bills while the bourbon ages. Most vodka is pretty tasteless, but the Peabody Jones Vodka tasted almost creamy, with hints of vanilla. A pleasant way to add interest to your vodka drinks.

In addition to the sipping and sampling, LUPEC also raised about $400 for the Red Cross’s tornado relief efforts – fitting given that the recent tornados have devastated areas around and in the South’s bourbon region. Cocktails and a cause, the perfect combo.

Bonus: Random Bourbon Factoids

  • Bourbon is America’s only native spirit and must contain at least 51% corn mash. But it does not have to be made in Bourbon County, Kentucky, to be called bourbon.
  • Bourbon barrels are made from new white oak by professional called coopers (at a cooperage, naturally).
  • The insides of the barrels are charred to distillery preference, depending on the flavor profile the distillery seeks.
  • After the barrels are used just once for bourbon, they are used by other distilleries for beer, Scotch or Irish whisky, rum and tequila.
  • The alcohol lost to absorption in the cask is called the angels’ share.
  • The Woodinville Whiskey Co. already has a long list of home beer brewers and commercial brewers waiting for those used bourbon barrels to free up!

Cheers, ICE

As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol
and mixer definitions and details.


See Cocktail Theater and Get “Sauced” Soon

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Saturday night I tried four new cocktails, a pickled quail’s egg, watched a love triangle unfold, munched a sirloin-stuffed, deep-fried jalapeño pepper, and caught up with a friend, all while my butt stayed put in one seat. This was Café Nordo’s Sauced, and it wasn’t any ordinary cocktails-appetizers-love triangle, but dinner theater as expressed in Seattle’s unique mix of quirky and sophisticated.

I am no performance reviewer, so I can’t give you an educated rundown of the theater part of the evening, other than to say that I was surprised (but not blown away) by the story’s twist at the end. However, I did enjoy the blonde’s robust vocals and the actors’ portrayals, especially the bartender’s, due to his voice (channeling Humphrey Bogart) and monologues about cocktail olden times.  I am going to enjoy any story that unfolds within the lore and history of cocktails and liquor.

But at Sauced, I got to absorb it while sipping a flight of four cocktails created by famous Seattle mixologist Murray Stenson of the Zig Zag Café. These included The Slippage, with champagne and St. Germain liqueur; The Secret Kiss (my favorite and otherwise known as Alaska Cocktail), with local Voyager gin, yellow Chartreuse and orange bitters; A Box of Nails, with bourbon, triple sec and bitters; and Nordo’s Ephemera, with a chocolate flavor and no description.  The flight was especially enjoyable to me because I have long wondered why bars don’t offer cocktail flights like they often do wine flights. I couldn’t drink four regular cocktails without serious consequences, but loved being able to try four small ones throughout the evening.

The cocktails were served and featured during the performance, as the bartender mixed while the story progressed. (I couldn’t help but notice when the actor “used” a bottle of Angostura bitters instead of orange for The Secret Kiss. Yeesh, I’m becoming such a cocktail geek!) Accompanying the drinks and performance were exotic appetizers and dessert, and I was game to try them all, especially while sitting with my foodie friend Dee.

At $55 for a flight of four cocktails, four servings of unique food items and a performance, I feel like I got a great deal and a worthy reason to head out on a rainy Seattle night.  Café Nordo – at the old Red Hook Brewery location in Fremont – runs through Nov. 13, giving you plenty of time to try it out. I hope their next production of “theatrical cuisine” also features cocktails so prominently.


The Spice is Nice (for Ice)

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Every once in awhile I get hung up on trying a specific cocktail recipe, despite a large number of equally tantalizing ones queued up. The Epicé Sidecar was such a recipe: Combining “heat” with “sidecar” sounded great to me. Although it is overall an easy drink to make, it took awhile to achieve the perfect storm of ingredients on-hand with the chance to make it. 

Epice Sidecar half-rimmed with Sugar in the Raw.

The Epicé Sidecar (epicé meaning spicy in French, says the recipe description) combines a simple syrup of jalapenos and brown sugar with pineapple juice, cognac and lemon juice. Since pineapple juice isn’t my favorite in drinks, I chose to use less and compensated by adding a little extra syrup. Nonetheless, the drink just didn’t WOW me. And, yes, I do expect a WOW factor from my cocktails.

Epicé Sidecar

1 1/2 oz Cognac (I used Metaxa brandy)
1 oz fresh pineapple 
 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz jalapeno brown sugar (double strength) simple syrup

Rim half of a chilled cocktail glass with brown sugar (Sugar in the Raw is recommended). Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into the glass. Garnish with two jalapeno slices and/or a small pineapple wedge (optional).

Jalapeno Brown Sugar Syrup:

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup water
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, washed and stemmed

Add the sugar, water and jalapenos sliced lengthwise to a pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes before straining through a fine-mesh strainer. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Regardless of the anticipation of trying this cocktail, sipping the finished product made me long for the Metaxa Sidecars I was making last spring. I decided to replace the simple syrup in that recipe with the jalapeno brown sugar syrup, thereby discovering a new twist on an old favorite.  Much better.

Metaxa Sidecar “spiced” up

1 oz Metaxa brandy
½ oz Cointreau
1 oz lemon juice
½ oz jalapeno brown sugar syrup (regular sidecar uses ¾ oz simple syrup)

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with fine sugar. Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into chilled glass and enjoy.

Why Metaxa, you ask? After trying a sidecar made with the Greek brandy at two different Seattle bars (Pair and 10 Mercer), I decided to skip the hunt for a good mixing Cognac and embrace the Metaxa instead. Yum.

Cheers, ICE


Try a Bloody Mary Before That Hail Mary

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Last week some friends and I ditched “regular life” and took the ferry to Port Townsend on the Olympic peninsula. Like a similar jaunt last summer, we had no particular plan: Some browsing, some eating and drinking, some laughs. Our fond memories of playing cards while sipping outstanding Bloody Marys led us to our favorite “dive” tavern, the Water Street Brewing & Ale House. But, to our dismay it was CLOSED! The pull-out-the-taps, remove-the-barstools (but not the funky murals) type of closed. Sigh.

Last summer I had talked up those Bloody Marys to my husband and he had countered by saying that the “bloodies” at Washington National Golf Course in Auburn were the best he’d had. So we agreed on a Bloody Mary Smackdown with the goal of sampling multiple recipes until we found our favorite.  Now, making a Bloody Mary is an awful lot like cooking to me – so many ingredients! – but I was game. Fortunately, a few trials into the smackdown our friend, Mason (formerly a liquor distributor), saved us by recommending Demitri’s Bloody Mary mix. Whew.

Demiti’s has kindly bottled up the right proportion of spices for a great drink. In fact, it’s good enough that I admit to making them without vodka when I want to squeeze in a serving of veggies (bonus fact: I just learned that the virgin version is called a Bloody Shame!). Another plus is that it is a Seattle company, although its products are available in grocery stores all over. No, they aren’t sponsoring or in any way compensating me (darn it). I just figure that with fall approaching you might need a Bloody Mary as fortification before – or during – that big football game. Or, like me, before watching little kids kick each others’ shins at soccer games.  Go Comets!

Bloody Mary or Bloody Shame? I'll never tell.

Super-Easy Bloody Mary

1 ½ oz vodka
6 oz tomato juice
A few dashes of Dimitri’s Bloody Mary mix (to taste)

Stir together in a highball glass and add condiments as desired. Salt or spiced rim is also a welcome touch. The spicy chipotle rim salt in the photo was provided by my friend Dee.

Now I need to hunt down some of those pepperoni sticks and fiery green beans like the Water Street Brewery used…  

Cheers, ICE