Dirty Martini (January 15, 2022)

Two dirty martinis sit on a wooden countertop.

Hey, if the pandemic is still happening, we’re still drinking dirty martinis!

We’ve been using some of our holiday gifts, and we’re thankful for all of our fans who have sent over garnishes, spirits, coasters, recipes, jokes, dog toys and more!

Today, we were checking in on a new, local spirit, Rainier Gin. You may know them more commonly as the makers of Rainier beer.

The flavor of this gin asks you to take notice. There is an alpine flavor, I’d say, which keeps you in mind of its mountainous namesake: robust and piney. We agreed that perhaps this profile wasn’t the best complement to the olive brine. But we think it’d make a great gin and tonic!

We’re going to try it.

Ingredients

  • Rainier Gin

  • Olive Brine

  • Olives (garnish)

Directions

  • Add liquids and ice to shaker; shake until satisfied.
  • Garnish and enjoy!
Enjoyed on January 15, 2022

Epiphany

Bright red festive cocktails garnished with orange slices sit on a holiday table.

Little Christmas

Growing up, we always celebrated Little Christmas as well as Christmas. I don’t recall knowing anyone else who did, so here’s a little context if you’d like it:

Little Christmas, also known as Epiphany, Three Kings Day and other names, is January 6 on the calendar. This is officially the twelfth day of Christmas that you’ve heard so much about. It’s the twelfth day after Christmas, not before. It marks the day that the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem after learning of the birth of Jesus twelve days earlier.

What this meant in practical terms was that we kept all the trappings of Christmas until January 6. The tree, decorations, and Christmas music were still in full swing. There was no rush to get rid of holiday treats yet. For me, this period was always some of the best of the holiday because it was so relaxing. Since the big event was officially over, there was nothing left to do but enjoy. It was like everything was stripped down to essentials. No more rushing around, no more planning or fussing. Simply the holiday atmosphere of lights, food, and music

Some people thought it was odd that our tree stayed up. In some other cultures, I understand this celebration is pretty common. In recent years, it feels like it’s gotten even more unusual, as people seem to leave Christmas behind even more quickly (it seems to me) but I still like to do it this way.

Elizabeth and I decided to invite some good friends over to celebrate Little Christmas. I had a cocktail in mind, one that I’d meant to make on Christmas Eve but didn’t. (If you must know, it’s because I threw my back out and had to recuse myself from most of the party.)

By Request

There had been a request for a cranberry-based cocktail on Christmas Eve. I carefully saved homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving for the occasion. My aunt Sheila always made a wonderful one, with fresh cranberries, apples, and walnuts.

Even though Elizabeth was serving Glurgg, another Christmas tradition, I thought we could make room for this pending request.

Folks, this cocktail was even better than the test run I’d made in December. It was delightfully rich and sort of decadent. It looked warm and beautiful, unlike our weather, and felt just right in front of a Christmas tree in January. I really felt like it was a treat, not only in terms of flavor, but I also enjoyed the feeling that no one else was doing what we were doing! It was a lovely way to enjoy the last day of the Christmas season and enjoy the feeling with good friends.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. Gin

  • 3/4 oz. Grand Marnier

  • 3/4 oz. Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • 3 Tbsp. Homemade Cranberry Sauce (leftover from the holidays)

  • Mandarin Orange slice (garnish)

  • Rosemary Simple Syrup
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup rosemary leaves

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup monk fruit

Directions

  • Muddle the cranberry sauce in a shaker. The one I make is my aunt’s recipe, and has whole cranberries, apples, and walnuts. Don’t use the walnuts, but do use the rest, as well as any of the juice.
  • Add the liquids and ice; shake until satisfied.
  • Garnish and enjoy!
  • Rosemary Simple Syrup
  • I picked rosemary out of our garden and stripped the leaves off the stem; pick enough to fill 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup. I come down on the larger side because I love rosemary. (The stem can lend a bitter taste, so don’t use that.) Boil with water and sugar/monk fruit for about a minute, then step for about 30.
  • If using monk fruit (which I use because Elizabeth likes it) make sure to keep it under 50% of the sweet mixture or the syrup will crystallize like crazy. I learned that the hard way! Use a little more sugar than monk fruit, and it should be fine.
Enjoyed on January 10, 2022

The Fireside Chat

Two sherry glasses garnished with cherries sit on a brick hearth in front of a fire.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Yes, yes, it’s autumn in Seattle; there are many dark, rainy nights these days! On this particular Friday night, your favorite bartenders decided to have an after-dinner cocktail in front of a cozy fire.

Elizabeth created this elegant surprise and had me guess at what was in it.

I correctly guessed Kahlúa, more hesitantly guessed milk (correct again), and then was a bit stumped. After a few more sips, I realized she’d added peanut butter whiskey…and then wondered how I could have missed it! It was actually a pretty prominent flavor, and this was a sophisticated way to showcase it. This was a perfect, lovely drink for a rainy night indoors with your sweetheart!

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Peanut Butter Whiskey

  • 1 oz. Kahlúa

  • 1/2 oz. or so of milk

  • Amarena cherries (garnish)

Directions

  • Shake all ingredients (except cherries) in a shaker with ice.
  • Garnish, light a fire, and enjoy!
Enjoyed on November 12, 2021

Lychee Martini

Two Lychee Martinis by the window are a bright contrast to a dark evening.

Folks, we had quite a few lychees left over from our Halloween eyeball garnishes and I knew just what to do with them: lychee martinis!

When I lived in Boston, I used to have the smoothest, most delicious lychee martinis. I didn’t know how or if I could recreate them, but it was worth a try. (For the record, maybe you can discern my Fenway Park coaster in the photo above. Coincidence, but it makes me happy to use it!)

I suspect the lychee martinis I’ve had were made with vodka, and that’s what most of the online recipes say to use. But you know the rules, folks, and we just don’t have vodka in the house.

I decided to try gin, with some lychee juice that the lychees were nestled in, along with several muddled lychees. All of that juice sweetened it up nicely, while keeping the sophistication of the gin.

These drinks were ethereal and mostly white, but for presentation’s sake, they needed a little visual pop. We didn’t seem to have any appropriate garnishes to stuff into the lychees, but then I found trail mix made with dried cranberries and green pistachios and pepitas. I put a couple of those, plus walnut pieces, into the lychees, and the effect was sharp and fun. A very pretty, cool, and elegant drink that was also delicious!

Elizabeth, who doesn’t like sweet drinks very much, said it was much better than she could have imagined.

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. Gin

  • Leftover lychee juice

  • 12 lychees (half for muddling; half for garnish)

  • Other brightly colored garnishes (we used cranberries, walnuts, pistachios, pepitas)

Directions

  • Muddle 6 lychees in a shaker.
  • Add ice, gin, lychee juice and shake until satisfied. Strain the drink into chilled glasses.
  • Garnish-within-a-garnish – add colored garnishes inside the white lychees.
  • Sit by the window, look into the night, and enjoy!
Enjoyed on November 11, 2021

Día de los Muertos

The Día de los Muertos is bright and beautiful with a rim and a lime garnish.

Remember the candy corn-infused tequila that I made for the Candy Corn on Halloween? Well, I didn’t mention this before, but I made way too much. The truth is, I forgot I only needed enough tequila to cover the orange layer of the drink. I actually calculated the amount as though it were filling the glass. Between the sweet, orange tequila and the non-alcoholic orange simple syrup of the Candy Corn, and the lychee garnishes of the Killer Clown, we’ve been reliving our Halloween flavors for a while now!

We still had a good amount of the orange tequila in the fridge, and we kept saying that we needed to make something with it. The problem was, it was hard to know what. Another Candy Corn didn’t make sense past Halloween, and Elizabeth doesn’t care for sweet drinks. The pitfall of making a special-occasion novelty drink!

Elizabeth finally had an epiphany: the sweet tequila was essentially a simple syrup. And what goes with tequila and simple syrup? It’s already practically a margarita! So she brilliantly added citrus and a rim and there it was! One of the citrus components happened to be yuzu juice, which we usually use in Asian cooking. It’s a lot like lemon, and has a slightly more bitter edge, so it was a nice counterpoint to the sweetness.

It was delightful, and I loved the color too. Plus, as we all know, a rim makes everything better!!! This was better than we thought it could be!

We named this drink because of the color, and because Día de los Muertos follows Halloween.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. leftover candy corn-infused tequila from the Candy Corn

  • Lime juice – about 4 limes, or to taste

  • Yuzu juice, a couple of teaspoons

  • Lime slices to garnish

  • Rim
  • Salt, cumin, cayenne

Directions

  • Shake candy corn-infused tequila, plus juices with ice in a shaker.
  • Use a lime to wet the edge of the glass, then dip in the salt mixture. Don’t forget to do this first, like I often do!
  • Garnish and enjoy!
Enjoyed on November 8, 2021

Dirty Martini (November 3, 2021)

A Dirty Martini is garnished with three olives.

Surely our most favorite cocktail, the go-to all year round – the dirty gin martini. Use lots of brine and three olives to garnish.

This funky glass was a birthday present from my friend Anne, one of the Pub’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters. I love it for a martini especially because it has a Daisy-Buchanan-doing-the-Charleston sensibility.

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. Gin

  • 1.5 oz. Brine

  • 3 olives (garnish)

Directions

  • Shake gin and brine in a shaker with ice until you can hear the ice breaking up.
  • Garnish with olives and enjoy!
Enjoyed on November 3, 2021

Candy Corn (October 31, 2021)

The Candy Corn cocktail is garnished with candy corns to look like a crown.

Back by Popular Demand!

Like the Killer Clown, I made this Halloween cocktail last year for a party, and was asked to reprise it.

Desired Improvements

I wanted to improve on last year, though. My first area to focus on was trying to create a better separation between the orange and yellow layers, so that it looked more like an actual piece of candy corn. To do this, I figured I needed to either change something about what I chose to float on top of each other; adapt the colors; or level up my pouring technique.

The other thing I wanted to improve was the garnish. I pride myself on my garnishes usually, but last year the candy corn was surprisingly difficult to wrangle. I ended up using one candy per cocktail last year as a result, and it looked a little sparse to me.

This year, I wanted to be ready.

Layers

I’m not sure about this, but I suspect there might be a trick to the weight of each liquid and how they interact. Perhaps I should have run some tests, but I ended up taking an easy way out. I hoped that if I created more difference between the colors of the layers, that it could provide enough contrast. I selected a liquid that was a much deeper yellow than what I used last year.

Like last year, the orange layer was Tequila infused with actual candy corn candy. (I note online that most people would use vodka for something like this; I’m sure that would be lovely too. Maybe even rum?) I put a small pitcher on the windowsill and let time do its work. Interestingly, this year the infusion took longer because I used a different brand of candy corn. Because we’d heard a lot about shipping delays and shortages, I grabbed the first bag of candy corn that I saw, in case I couldn’t find any more.

Like last year, I used cream for the white layer. It not only says “candy corn,” but it’s easy to float. It’s also rich and delicious, and a great complement to the sweetness of the drink overall.

Detour

I later found the preferred kind of candy corn and purchased it. We did a blind taste test at home, and it turns out I really do prefer the original. I’m not an affiliate or anything, but it begins with a B and is from Chicago. We ended up eating the preferred candy, and infusing the other. The secondary candy took several days to dissolve into the tequila, as opposed to only five hours last year with the preferred brand. Somehow, I don’t think I’d like to ask too many questions about it, but I’ll leave this right here for your information.

Verdict

I didn’t spend much time on the physics of the layers, but maybe I should have! With the exception of the cream layer, they didn’t turn out like I’d hoped. Although some cocktails displayed a slight difference between the orange and yellow layers, they generally looked like an orange drink with a white float on top. So that was a little disappointing, and something that I might look into for next year. How beautiful would that three-layer cocktail be?

For the garnish, I was ready with a knife and some patience. I gently carved a groove at the bottom of the candy so I could place them on the rim. A happy accident was that they looked like crowns. They looked stunning and fun, if I do say so myself, folks!

The flavor was delicious: sort of like a creamsicle.

Non-alcoholic adaptation

I also created a non-alcoholic version of the drink. Instead of infusing candy corn in alcohol, you can achieve the same color and flavor by treating this like a simple syrup. If you heat a quantity of candy corn in water until the candy dissolves, you can get the same visual effect and a similar taste. It’s also much faster!

Ingredients

  • Tequila

  • Candy corn

  • Mango Lemonade

  • Cream

  • Candy Corn to garnish

Enjoyed on October 31, 2021

Directions

  • Start a couple of days early with your infusion of candy and alcohol, since I noticed a big difference in the breakdown of different brands of candy corn. Steep tequila and candy corn in a carafe or jar and cover. You may want to agitate from time to time. For quantity: I was making for a party so used quite a bit: probably 16 oz. tequila and a whole bag of candy corn. Plan for about 2 oz. of the mixture per each cocktail. You can adjust the proportion too, depending on how sweet or strong you prefer. You’ll know when it’s done because the candy will completely dissolve.
  • Cut grooves in the candy corn garnishes first, since it’s a bit time-consuming. Have them ready to go.
  • Pour the orange layer first; go about one-third of the way up the glass.
  • Position a teaspoon above the orange layer, and turn it over so the rounded back of the spoon is facing up. Gently and slowly pour the Mango Lemonade over the spoon for the yellow layer. (I hope to have a hack for next year so that these layers are more defined.) Leave a little extra room than you think you’ll need for the final layer.
  • Using the same spoon technique, pour the cream. This one should float easily.
  • Garnish with as many candy corns as you like around the rim and Happy Halloween!

Flor de Sevilla Gin and Tonic

The Flor de Sevilla Gin and Tonic has a slight orange color.

Pandemic Pub here – coming to you from the road, with masks on!

With the hot weather here in California, we’ve been making the most of tropical drinks like our family of Mai Tais. By adding one ingredient, and one word, to the cocktail every night, we’ve created an empire.

Today, we decided to switch it up. It’s still hot, and we were in the mood for a Gin and Tonic. We ran across a lovely orange gin – the prettiest spirit since the purple Empress gin – and we couldn’t say no.

You can see the orange color in the bottle for sure. It’s more subtle in the glass, but I hope you can see the light pinkish-orange color. That’s part of the charm.

The orange flavor was just right. This was an easy drink to make, but it tasted more complicated than it was. Subtle, summery, deep – this was a winner.

Ingredients

  • Sevilla Orange Gin

  • Limes

  • Tonic water

  • Mint leaves

Directions

  • Fill glass with ice; add gin to almost the halfway point.
  • Squeeze at least a half of a lime into the glass. Drop “used” lime wedge into glass also.
  • Top off the rest of the way with Tonic Water.
  • Add mint for garnish. Give a stir and enjoy!
Enjoyed on September 27, 2021

Pedestrian Mai Tai & Pedestrian Mai Tai in the Crowded Crosswalk (September 25, 2021)

This two different types of Mai Tais are both served with ice and garnished with a cookie.

The more juices we added to our Pedestrian Mai Tais, the more they tasted like that tropical classic. But I confess that I preferred the stripped-down original! Not as sweet, but somehow more satisfying to me, with the raspberry playing off of the spices in the rum.

I broke with our progression of adding juices, and went back to the good ol’ Pedestrian Mai Tai, which you see on the right. Mark’s drink is the Pedestrian Mai Tai in the Crowded Crosswalk, which we’ve also made before.

Although the easy nature of these drinks has suited our lifestyle on this road trip, I have another confession: I miss rims and garnishes!

I added gingerbread cookies here, because that’s what we had, and they were great! Mine fell in the cocktail and when I eventually fished it out, it had taken on some liquid and tasted extra good! The ginger spices in the cookie really complement the rum and raspberry juice.

Mark liked his too. 🙂

Ingredients

  • Spiced rum

  • Tangerine juice

  • Pineapple-Mango juice

  • Cranberry-Raspberry juice

  • Gingerbread cookies (garnish)

Directions

  • Fill glass with ice – add rum to almost the half-way point. Add juices in whatever combination and ratio is your preference.
  • Garnish and enjoy!
Enjoyed on September 25, 2021

Pedestrian Mai Tai in the Crowded Crosswalk (September 24, 2021)

Deep red Mai Tais are served over ice.

We’re chugging along over here at Pandemic Pub with more Mai Tais! They’ve gone from being Pedestrian, with just two ingredients, to tasting like a full-fledged Mai Tai!

Ingredients

  • Spiced rum

  • Cranberry-Raspberry juice

  • Tangerine juice

  • Pineapple-Mango juice

Directions

  • Fill glass with ice. Pour rum to almost the half-way point. Pour roughly equal amounts of the juices, until the glass is filled.
  • Give a little stir and enjoy!
Enjoyed on September 24, 2021