Random Recipe

Featured

Categories

Final Say

Final SayThere are a handful of cocktails in our experience that anyone reading this should recognize, or at the very least, drinks you should try. One example is the Last Word—a forgotten classic until it was unearthed by Seattle bartending legend Murray Stenson of Zig Zag Café. To the uninitiated, its bold and unusual flavor profile featuring both Luxardo maraschino liqueur and Green Chartreuse can be a revelation. The fact that it is citrus-based makes it accessible, and if you are a self-proclaimed gin hater, it is a drink that can definitely open your mind to the wonderful possibilities that a good craft cocktail can offer. Don't feel like you need to make the Last Word before you try today's feature, but if you haven't had the pleasure you are certainly missing out. Knowing one drink can also serve as a convenient benchmark for judging another.

As good as the Last Word is, we shouldn't be too surprised that it has inspired its fair share of riffs. For example, a while ago we wrote about a spin-off called the First Word cocktail, a drink that was once featured on the menu at Portland's excellent tapas restaurant, Toro Bravo. This one substitutes Genepy for the Green Chartreuse. Genepy in the First Word has a similar herbal character to the Last Word and manages to pull off a decent variation without straying too far afield.

Final Say
1 oz gin
1 oz Strega
1 oz Licor 43
1 oz lime juice

Add the ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

A few weeks ago, we ordered a drink from the menu at Bar La Grassa in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is clear by the name that this drink is modeled after the Last Word even if the recipe on paper retains only half of the ingredients. The substitutions include another strong but sweet herbal liqueur (Strega subbing for Chartreuse) and a Mexican vanilla liqueur instead of Italian cherry (Licor 43 in place of Luxardo). To our taste, the proportions are the same, so the original framework is definitely intact.

The first sip confirms a similar experience to drinking the Last Word. You immediately sense strong herbal flavors and the balanced combination and sweet and sour, but this time there's a hint of anise on the nose. This gives way to the vanilla from the Licor 43 like an herbal dreamsicle. The lime juice keeps the sugar in check, and all of it blends nicely with the gin. Bar La Grassa uses Solveig, so we did too, but you could experiment with other brands. Solveig is made by Far North Spirits located "up north" as we like to say in Minnesota. They distill the individual botanicals that comprise Solveig instead of everything together. Once the distillates are blended, the resulting gin is lovely—floral and creamy—but this drink has enough flavor to stand up to a less-nuanced gin if you opt for something easier to find.

When we first spotted the Final Say on the menu, we had to chuckle at the name—we have the classic Last Word, the contemporary First Word, and now the Final Say. Perhaps there are other names out there that will attempt to one-up the original (we are looking for the Middle Finger Word, the Awkward Silence, or maybe even the Entire Sentence)!

Cold Brew & Tonic

Cold Brew & Tonic

Normally, we don't reach for tonic when we want a cocktail. The old G&T may be a popular choice, but we think it's because people don't know what else to make with gin. It's a shame because many of the best classic cocktails call for gin—not vodka—not only because vodka was unknown in the pre-prohibition era, but because gin brings something extra to a cocktail that simply isn't there otherwise—and we don't mean juniper. It may be a requirement in gin, but not all brands choose to emphasize juniper flavor, allowing other botanicals, citrus and even spice to play the center role. Yet, even with strong, piney examples, gin is transformed by other ingredients in a way that can be hard to explain to people who think they are gin-averse. But tasting is believing.

On a recent trip to Minnesota to visit some of our former haunts, we happened

Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

Otoño Cocktail

Otoño Cocktail

Some years ago, we received a gift from a family member living in Spain. Pacharán (or Patxaran) is a sloe berry and anise flavored liqueur from the Navarre community of northern Spain. Dating back to the middle ages, homemade pacharán recipes are still followed today similar to several Italian traditions (like nocino and limoncello). To make pacharán, sloe berries from the blackthorn tree are soaked in anisette along with a few coffee beans and cinnamon. After a time, the solids are strained and the resulting liquid is bottled. Eventually, commercial brands became available. The oldest is Zoco, dating back to the 1950s using a family recipe from the early 1800s.

Similar to Sloe Gin, Pacharán Navarro production is regulated to contain no color or flavor additives, yet it boasts a deep reddish hue and an intense berry flavor alongside the expected hint of anise. While it is

Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

Practical Glassware

Libbey 3773 Embassy Champagne 5.5 oz glass

Nothing showcases a unique cocktail like a unique cocktail glass. But, sometimes practicality is more important—we are talking function over form. Not everyone wants or needs the kind of variety we like to photograph here. What everyone does need are a few different glasses to get through the vast majority of recipes worth exploring. You want to be able to construct and enjoy classic and contemporary recipes the way they were intended. We are often asked what kind of glassware to get, so we thought a simple guide might help. Once you cover the basics, you can always expand with a specialty glass here or there without going overboard. But you should at least insist on these as a starting point.

The Coupe The most basic cocktail glass you should own is the cocktail coupe. This is the historic vessel for serving "up" cocktails (shaken or stirred, then strained into

Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

Peach Pit

Peach Pit Detail

On Saturdays here in Portland, Oregon, the Farmers Market is nothing short of amazing this time of year. It's easy to get lost among the exciting sights, sounds and smells of everything nature and energetic entrepreneurs have to offer. We found an abundance of peaches almost everywhere we looked. Depending on where you live, you might have them at your market too. We thought this would be a perfect time to post a cocktail that features this flavor. The drink was created by Brad Farran of the Clover Club in New York. It is called the Peach Pit.

No, it's not a reference to the 50's diner from Beverly Hills 90210—or at least we don't think so. This is a tropical drink with peachy overtones and a cognac base. It also features orgeat—an almond syrup which you can make at home—and of course, a nice big chunk of

Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

How To Make Nocino from Unripe Walnuts

Nocino

The Italians seem to know a thing or two about making great drinks. Whether you fancy a bitter amaro, sweet vermouth or liqueurs like maraschino—it's hard to imagine cocktails without these essential ingredients. It should come as no surprise that the same folks whose cultural traditions brought us homemade limoncello also invented a fantastic liqueur made from walnuts. We are referring to Nocino, a delicious and spicy sipper with a complex bittersweet flavor and a tantilizing aroma.

In order to make this wonderful elixir, you need to harvest black walnuts while they are still green—before they are actually nuts. Traditionally, Italians harvest them just after the summer solstice, so depending on where you live, now is probably a great time to gather your supplies. For us, that means finding a friend who has a black walnut tree, or wandering through the neighborhood and knocking on doors for permission.

Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

Coffee Cocktails

Coffee Liqueur

Coffee flavor in cocktails is nothing new. Classic recipes like Mexican and Irish Coffee are legendary. You also have coffee liqueur which shows up occasionally in recipes (one of our favorites is the Curfew cocktail), not to mention how easy it is to make an infusion. Drop a dozen beans into a bottle of vodka and in just a few days you have coffee vodka for a very interesting "martini". We happily admit to hosting more than one party with a creamy and sweet espresso cocktail on the menu! All playfulness aside, some readers know that we are actually pretty serious about coffee. We roast our own beans, pull shots of espresso at home, and we don't mind sharing our experience and knowledge with others. Ok, we are coffee snobs (this is the Pacific Northwest, after all) but we still get excited when new products come around that

Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .