LUPEC Seattle Dismantling the Patriarchy…one drink at a time!

Ladies for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, Seattle Edition!
We try to meet up once a month in the area's best cocktail bars to try tasty libations made of gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, etc.
Occasionally we throw a party and use our power to raise money for local charities.

Follow the fun!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Meeting: Chino’s Preview Night

This months post is brought to you by LUPEC lady Jackie Moffett. Jackie writes a great blog of her own that you should check out called DrinkGal. You can also follow her on Twitter. Thanks so much Jackie! ~WM

You only need to whisper “cocktail” to get the ladies of LUPEC rallied and ready to drink. Yet sometimes our fearless leader Wendy Miller is able to not only swing us a place to imbibe, but also a new spot to nosh and preview before the rest of Seattle is granted a peek. This was the case with Chino’s, a new eatery nestled in the gastronomic playground of Capitol Hill, in the former residence of the Oasis Café. With a street-food-truck-turned-stationary concept and a cocktail menu put together by Veronika Goth (formerly of Poppy), it wasn’t hard to get the ladies out on the town, despite the cold December temperatures.

Touting an intriguing mix of Taiwanese and Mexican, the menu wasn’t what we were expecting. We were served rounds of Gua Bao (pork belly buns) and Spicy Chicken Wings, and I’m fairly certain that we all ate our weight in the delicious Furikake Kettle Corn while fighting over the last of the Pickles of the Day (made fresh in house, of course). The idea behind Chino’s isn’t a high-concept fusion of the two cultures, but bits of both, served as easy comfort food one can snack on while enjoying one of their delicious cocktails.
Which is what lured us there in the first place! The gents behind the bar had kindly put together a LUPEC Mai Tai to start us off with, a tasty take on the classic with Rhum Agricole, Demerara Rum, ginger and a brilliant little 5 spice sugar cube. Made of fennel, star anise, clove, cinnamon and Szechwan peppercorn, our hosts weren’t shy to tell us what was in the delicious little cube, but the quantities? Mum’s the word.

Our delectable cocktail, as it turned out, was just the tip of the iceberg. Just like the food, the cocktail menu is divided in two: classics any seasoned drinker will know and love, and tiki drinks, the new favorite of cocktail enthusiasts. From a Ramos Gin Fizz to a Widow’s Kiss, the classics covered any liquor you might be craving. And if you are tempted by tiki there’s a plethora to choose from. Perhaps a Zombie if you are feeling too sober… or a Suffering Bastard if you’ve had too much. And our Mai Tai? One of 3 Mai Tai’s that Chino’s pours: you can sip Don the Beachcomber’s, Trader Vic’s or the seasonal concoction, whatever your rum-swilling heart desires.

A huge thanks to the owners of Chino’s Walter Lee and Mari Tiscareño Lee for our delicious preview, for bringing a little spicy SoCal to the chilly Northwest, and of course letting the LUPEC ladies invade for an evening of tiki and street food done right. Cheers!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November Meeting: Piscologia at Sambar

This month's blog post is written by long time LUPEC lady Courtney Randall. Courtney's blog Cocktail Quest is a fantastic place to learn a bit of history and become thirsty reading about her constant stirrings and mixings. Thanks so much Courtney for doing the post! ~WM 

When the ladies of LUPEC assemble, each meeting must include amazing libations created by talented bartenders at prime cocktail locations. Of course, having a fabulous community of talented women to enjoy them with is just a bonus. But where would the LUPEC ladies be without the joys of a well-crafted beverage? The question is too frightening to consider. In order to keep our imaginations sparked, sometimes we must hunker down and get serious about our cocktail education. Not every meeting is a party, sometimes we incorporate some learnin'. How lucky we are then to be able to explore the world of fine quality spirits and craft cocktails with excellent guidance from many our city's most knowledgeable resources.

This month's event brought us to one of Seattle's cocktail gems, Sambar, a small craft cocktail bar nestled next to le Gourmand. There, the talented and innovative Jay Kuehner would lead us on our journey to Peru for an in-depth class on pisco and featured Piscología, a relatively new pisco on the market. With an ample back bar full of obscure spirits and exotic housemade syrups and purees, it was obvious that this would not be an ordinary LUPEC gathering.

Upon arrival, we were each greeted with a refreshing aperitif that was akin to a Manhattan, though it was made with pisco. The aromatic Capitan cocktail combined an equal parts mixture of pisco and French sweet vermouth garnished with a thin strip of orange peel. Light and yet incredibly flavorful, this cocktail stimulated our palates as we were formally introduced to a most important, yet often underappreciated spirit.

With a history that spans over 400 years, pisco dates back at least to the sixteenth century when Spanish colonizers transported grapes across the Atlantic. The grape-based spirit first found its way into the United States through California primarily during the Gold Rushes in the late nineteenth century. By this time it was already a staple on many ships that made port in South America on their way around Cape Horn. San Francisco soon found itself awash in pisco, and it was there that the spirit gained nationwide attention, particularly via the writings of Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain. Duncan Nicol, owner of the Bank Exchange Saloon, was primarily responsible for this widespread recognition as his Pisco Punch was lauded far and wide. And though I would love to believe that it was because of the refreshing combination of pisco, citrus, and pineapple gomme syrup (the addition of gum arabic creates a velvety texture), rumor has it that Nicol laced this already-delicious beverage with cocaine. Today, pisco is still most widely known in America for its inclusion in Nicol's Pisco Punch and another fantastic drink, the Pisco Sour.

Our second cocktail of the evening was Jay's homage to both the pisco sour and a pisco-based libation that is popular in Peru, the Chilcano. When combining the two, he played on the fact that both drinks include citrus and some form of sweetener. Beyond that the two drinks are only vaguely alike. The pisco sour follows the classic recipe for a sour, including the aforementioned citrus and syrup as well as pisco and egg whites. The Chilcano, however,would be considered a member the Buck family of drinks, where the base spirit, here pisco, is added to citrus and then topped with ginger beer. In most cases, a sweetener is usually added to balance out the tartness. Jay's cocktail combined the best elements of these drinks. He infused ginger directly into the pisco and also utilized crushed ginger to up the spicy ante. By incorporating the egg whites, he was able to preserve the velvety texture that the pisco sour is known for. Lime juice, simple syrup, and orange flower water concluded the ingredients. The drink was presented over ice, with a ginger beer top (from the Chilcano), and garnished with some grated lime zest and a wine grape.

The government of Peru strictly regulates what can be classified as pisco, in the same way that Bourbon is strictly defined here in the States. First of all, only eight grape varieties can be used. By manipulating the type and amount of the different grapes, the distiller has the freedom to create that perfect blend. The grape must, freshly fermented grape juice, is then distilled in alembic pot stills to bottling proof--watering an overproof spirit back down to bottling strength is against the regulations. Then, by law, it must be rested for at least three months in glass, stainless steel or any other vessel that won't affect the flavor before it can reach the marketplace.

Piscología specifically combines Torontel, Italia and Quebranta grapes. The Quebranta grape is a variation of the ancestral Viceroy grapes that the Spanish brought over to Peru. This grape is responsible for providing the dry, earthy foundation for the more aromatic flavors of the Torontel and Italia grapes. Piscología is made along the coast of Peru in the Ica region. This specific acholado, as piscos made from more than one type of grape are called, is nicely aromatic--not too intense or floral, but powerful enough to stand out when mixed with other ingredients. As a result this pisco is wonderful both on its own and makes a superb base for numerous cocktails. Jay designed our next cocktail to highlight this pisco's versatility and ability to mingle fluently with disparate ingredients. He combined the pisco with lime juice, Averna, Regan's orange bitters, Concord grape puree, and cinnamon/ancho chile simple syrup. This cocktail was then garnished with a lime wheel and some grated cinnamon. The result was a refreshing cocktail that was both tart and spicy.

After Prohibition, the popularity of pisco waned, like that of so many other exotic spirits. Pisco started to make a comeback in the 1960s when restaurateur Joe Baum decided to include the pisco sour on his menus. When he reopened the Rainbow Room in 1987 with the help of Dale DeGroff, the pisco sour traveled with him. Since then, as classic cocktails have become more popular, interest in pisco has also increased. Today, it is easier than ever to find pisco in liquor stores thanks to the efforts of companies like Topa Spirits. Owned by LUPEC Seattle member Meg McFarland and Krystle Hicks, who heads up their San Diego office, Topa Spirits strives to bring quality pisco into the United States.

For our fourth cocktail, Jay gave us a variation of one of the most famous classic cocktails, the Corpse Reviver No. 2, but with a pisco twist. First appearing in 1930 in Harry Craddock's art deco masterwork, the Savoy Cocktail Book, the original recipe calls for an equal parts mixture of gin, lemon juice, Kina Lillet, and Cointreau that is then added to an absinthe-rinsed glass. In Jay's version, the pisco replaced the gin, of course, but he wasn't done there. He also substituted Cocchi Americano for the Lillet and introduced a champagne top. The result was a refreshing, slightly more rich variation of the Reviver.

Our final cocktail was a variation of another popular Peruvian pisco drink: the algarrobina. A cream-based drink that resembles a Brandy Alexander, it usually includes pisco, cream, cinnamon and algarrobina syrup-- a sweetener made from the fruit of the Black Karob tree, the algarrobo. Jay swapped out the cinnamon for nutmeg and used karob syrup in place of the hard-to-find algarrobina syrup. He served this rich drink over ice and dusted it with fresh ground nutmeg. It was the perfect way to end the evening.

With our cocktail education upgraded and our taste buds sated, it was time to say goodnight. What were the takeaway lessons? First, pisco is darn tasty and exceedingly versatile. Second, Jay Kuehner does not mess around--you say a pisco class, he hears graduate thesis. Of course, there were no complaints. Third, drink pisco. Of course, the night would not have been such a success if it weren't for the efforts of Jay Kuehner and Meg McFarland and the very kind owners of Sambar.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Boobs, Booze, & Beignets! – October party/charity event

The header of this blog reminds readers of this fun fact about LUPEC Seattle: “Occasionally we throw a party and use our power to raise money for local charities.” This is exactly what went down at the Rob Roy in Belltown on Thursday night. It was a perfect mixture of Seattle Cocktail Week and Breast Cancer Awareness month that led the throwing of “Boobs, Booze, and Beignets,” a New Orleans themed party that stretched from the street to the very back of the bar.

The official menu for the evening...

 But let’s start with the middle of the bar – or rather, the bar itself. Anu Apte and crew at the Rob Roy crafted a special Big Easy-themed drink menu for the evening, including four cocktails and a traditional serve Absinthe. Besides the Sazerac, also known as the official cocktail of New Orleans, the Bourbon St. Slushie was a popular choice among LUPEC members and other party-goers. Other options included a Ramos Gin Fizz and a Vieux Carre, another New Orleans classic. The miniature bottle of Angostura bitters that accompanied it may have been added incentive for this order!

Sazerac and raffle ticket

And now onto that part about the street – what New Orleans-themed party would be complete without food? Not one, in fact. Thank goodness for the Where Ya At Matt truck being there. Party-goers braved the chilly (but dry!) October air while stepping out onto the street for everything from Jambalaya croquettes to spicy shrimp bread to po boy sliders. The hot beignets lived up to their placement in the event’s name delighting many with their doughy-deliciousness and excessive covering of very powdery sugar.  

Where Ya At Matt shrimp bread and spicy sauce

 And finally, we get to the “boobs” part of the evening. Besides enjoying excellent cocktails and delicious food, the goal for the event was to raise $500 to contribute to the National Breast Cancer Foundation during Breast Cancer awareness month. Local bars and businesses generously donated (full list of donors below) everything from gift certificates to bottles of booze to a whiskey making kit! Raffle tickets went for $5 and each purchase got an attendee a bead necklace to add a bit of Mardi Gras-like flair to the evening. Early reports had the total amount of tickets sold at over $1000! As everything from envelopes to bags to boxes was passed across the bar to winners, ticket holders swirled their drinks and hoped their number would come up next. Many of them did!

Wendy was handing out raffle prizes left and right!


A huge thank you to our raffle donors:

  • Gilt Group -  Totes
  • Left Coast Libations/Inner Chapter Books - Autographed Copy of Left Coast Libations
  • Sound Spirits - Ebb & Flow Gin, Ebb & Flow Vodka
  • Scrappys Bitters - Grapefruit Bitters, Cardamon Bitters, Lavender Bitters, Celery Bitters, bitters travel pack
  • Woodinville Whiskey    - Barrel Aging Kit with 2 Bottles of White Dog
  • Estrella Salon    - choice of $150 worth of Skin Treatments
  • Mulleady's Pub - gift Card
  • Cooper & Sons - Pierre Ferand Cognac, Crop Organic Vodka
  • Pur Spirits - Blood Orange Liquor, Pear Williams Liquor
  • Novo Fogo - Cachaca Kit with Silver & Gold Novo Fogo, Muddler & Recipe cards
  • Tales of the Cocktail - Two Party Passes to the invite only Opening & Closing parties, Meet the Distillers event and 5 Tasting rooms at TOTC on tour in Vancouver this Feb
  • Small Screen Network - A guest spot on Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen, a web based video series. You'll step behind the bar and infront of the cameras to mix up a cocktail with Kathy!
  • Liberty - gift cards (several!)    
  • Daniel's Broiler - dinner for two
  • Poquitos - dinner for two
  • Bathtub Gin - gift card
  • Rabbit Hole - gift card
  • The Living Room Bar - gift Card
  • Bastille - dinner for two
  • Hotel 1000 - Spahhh Retreat: Two Spa Treatments & Lunch/Dinner
  • Piscologia- Basket of Piscologia, Peruvian Bitters, recipe and t-shirt, leather handbag from Argentina
Thanks to everyone else who contributed to the great success that was Boobs, Booze, & Beignets. It was an excellent kick-off to the first annual Seattle Cocktail Week, indeed. More photos can be found here. Laissez les bons temps rouler!  

Big thanks to my lady on the street Chelsea for taking pictures during the event and writing this great post! Also big thanks to Rob Roy, Anu Apte & Trickey who shook to donate $5 per drink from the special menu. Where Ya At Matt, who donated 100% of money from the beignet sales. All the donors for the fab prizes and of course all of you for participating. Our goal was $500 and we did a total of... drumroll please... $2,360.00!!!! ~Wendy                                                         

Friday, October 14, 2011

LUPEC October meeting Swig Well inaugural "Memories in a Glass"

Many thanks to Cameo for writing this month's blog post. And congratulations to her and her new gig as Chef of re-opening bar Vessel! -WM

Sometimes a drink is just a drink; spirits, ice, glass. Those of us who appreciate the craft, appreciate properly measured spirits, cold clear ice, and delicately etched glass expertly chosen.   Sometimes all that is rubbish.  
 A margarita poolside under a palm palapa, an absinthe slushy on bourbon street, a glass of bubbly in Paris. Sometimes, memory is the secret ingredient. Nevermind the jigger, or the tincture the hand pressed juice, the moment is in the memory. That feeling of being lifted from your barstool and delivered back to that moment in time where your toes dangled in the water or the rain locked you indoors in a foreign place. 
“Memories in a Glass”, the theme of Swig Well, the newest collaboration of Seattle's top shelf bartender started by  Rob Roy's lovely owner Anu Apte along with the effervescent, Hallie McGee. Swig Well will hold classes for the cocktail curious and the cocktail elite by-weekly or so in a ‘belly up to the bar’ atmosphere at Rob Roy. 
The first of many classes to come, “Memories in a glass” served as this months LUPEC meeting. The course outline is loose and comfortable, just the way it's intended. Designed to be one to two hour classes for those of us with 'short attention spans' and truth be told in the discussion of spirits how much do we really remember after a couple? 
Inspired by her recent, well deserved, vacation, 'Memories in a Glass' unveiled the distinction between a recipe and a the palpable memory of flavor, and how sometimes it’s the salt air or even the exhaust from a passing bus that can change the way you remember what you eat or drink. 
We started the evening with a little bubbly, what I believe is universal in capturing memories in it’s tiny bubbles only to remind us latter of how sweet life is.  Next tried two versions of  the sweetest, sourest, and often tragic of memory makers,  the Margarita, Rob Roy’s version, and a version closest to Anu’s memory from the beach.  The differences were subtle but significant, Rob Roy opts for a reposado tequila which has a little deeper flavor, perfect for a grey Seattle mental escape south of the border. The 'memory' margarita was made with Plata, tequila giving it more of a straight from the sun flavor.  We experienced perfectly the idea that if you free yourselves from believing perfection is in the recipe, that something so simple as a ½ ounce of lime can differ in taste so significantly, it holds the key to a portal of time travel, where a lime is not simply a lime, and a drink is not simply a drink, that a memory is often the perfect garnish.
Swig Well’s inaugural class was a perfect introduction to the ‘feel’ of  what is to come.  An informal discussion over the subtleties of citrus, or the smell of scotch and leather, a well stocked bar at home or a well filled flask in the woods. 

Mexican version of Angostura was the magic ingredient to the Platino Fresco
Thank you for the introduction and cheers to your success!!
Reporting from the field... Cameo McRoberts

All photos here
And recipes from the evening are here

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

August Meeting: Cocktails in the Garden at Poppy

*August's meeting write up is thanks to Lorraine Goldberg (@voraciousgirl), you can read her articles on Seattlest

This month the ladies of LUPEC had the pleasure spending time in the garden at Poppy for a more intimate meeting. Poppy, most well known for their use of herbs in their cooking, brings that philosophy to the bar where they make use of what is fresh and in season.

Setting the scene: mini-glasses for champagne and garden fresh herbs.

Pre-Garden Cocktails in the Bar at Poppy! Cheers!
The twenty lucky cocktail enthusiasts were treated to a wonderful evening filled with delicious treats compliments of Poppy, an informative talk by head bartender Veronika Groth & owner Jerry Tranfield plus plenty of garden inspired cocktails. As we gathered in the garden, the ladies ordered off of the special cocktail menu featuring herb-centric drinks just for us! Many of us started with the Bada Bing: Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon juice, bing cherries and sage.
Listening Intently (Or Not)

Veronika greeted us with mini-glasses of bubbly to demonstrate using different herbs in drinks. She selected mint, sage, green & red chiso plus anise hyssop to add to the glasses of sparkling wine. She explained that each herb needs to be treated differently to maximize the flavor. Mint & sage for example you want to slap to bring out the flavor and natural oils. While the chiso leaf should torn. We had fun playing around with the different herbs and perusing the garden for inspiration.
Wendy and Veronika
 The ladies continued to order the cocktails and nibble on their delicious eggplant fries, fried mussels, potato croquettes & goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms! The Block Party, also a huge hit of the night combined gin, mint, lemon, housemade cucumber water and rose-geranium infused water was a refreshing mix of the savory and sweet.

Chatting in the garden

Leisurely Conversing and Enjoying the Tranquil Back Garden

 Soon we were lucky enough to gleam some insight from the man who makes it all possible at Poppy, Mr. Jerry Tranfield. Jerry hails from years of experience from The Herb Farm. For the past two plus years, he's created menus at Poppy centering around herbs in a more playful atmosphere. He talked about the various herbs they grow in the garden and how to use each of them for cocktails. His favorite, the lemon verbena he likes to muddle in gin or vodka based drinks. He also recommends blending the herb with sugar in a spice grinder to absorb the essential oils, which then can be stored for months in your freezer.  Jerry's favorite summer pairings: lavender with cherries or plums or anise hyssop with peaches . Perhaps start your day off with a savory cocktail using sage and grapefruit or use a lovage stalk (similar to celery) which is hollow as a straw in your bloody mary! Of course rosemary and gin pair well, which you might see in other cocktail menus around town. Like the classic Pimm's Cup? Well next time try borage, which has a cucumber like flavor instead! Jerry encourage us to get creative and play more with herbs we grow in our garden which of course we all loved!
Jerry explains his philosophy and favorite uses of herbs in cocktails

The Does and Don'ts of Herb Mixology according to Poppy owner Jerry Tranfield
Jerry sips his favorite the Lemon Verbena Drop (lemon vodka, lemon verbena, limoncello and lemon juice) while mingling with the LUPEC ladies.

What a great way to enjoy a beautiful Seattle summer evening than the patio at Poppy. Thanks to Jerry and Veronika for hosting us and sharing the garden and their knowledge! We look forward to replicating some of the drinks at home and applying newly learned combinations. Sonja Groset, our resident cocktail writer wrote about our gathering for her weekly column In The Cups for Seattle Weekly. Cheers!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

July LUPEC- Kneehigh Stocking Co.

Way back in July the ladies of LUPEC were hosted by the fine folks at Kneehigh Stocking Co. for our monthly meet up. Specifically Kevin Langmack, Nikki & Katie (with a big nod at owner Jack and bar manager Gregg for all their help in organizing) shook, stirred & served all evening as this tiny gem closed it's doors to the general public and let us take it over for 3 hours.

Upon being greeted and admitted there was a delicious serve yourself punch for the sipping. Once everyone got settled Kevin surprised us all with a little class, basically the evolution of a cocktail- in this case a classic sour, the White Lady, and how the proportions and ingredients can change slightly to create a different cocktail. We started sampling gorgeous mini White Lady's with their 1/2 1/4 1/4 ratio. 
Next we moved on to the Pink Lady with gin & applejack, sour, sweet and egg white (and a dash of grenadine) in a 1/2, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 ration. Delicious and one of my favorite cocktails.

From here Kevin guided us into more modern cocktails and we sampled the Pegu Club- gin, cointreau, lime and bitters. Such a perfect balance of sweet and tart. And look at how beautiful the lime garnish was!

And finally we ended with the Jasmine which adds a potable bitter, in this case Campari, to it's booze (gin), sour (lemon), sweet (Cointreau) ratio.

This was such a well done talk and everyone really enjoyed it. Kneehigh went above and beyond which was very appreciated. Thanks again to our hosts!
What did you think of the class?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

June LUPEC Homework Assignments

June's meeting was a homework assignment:

The mission: to pick one bar to revisit from our last 12months, one that you haven't been to since that meeting (or didn't get to join us at), and give us the scoop on what you had, what you thought, etc. of any of the following:

Zig Zag
Copper Gate
Naga Lounge
Liberty Bar
Suite 410

Denise, being the consummate professional at all things photography and writing turned hers in first:  

Old Cuban, Meet the New/Old Brazilian

I sidled up to the bar at Naga, in Chantanee and was glad to see Michael Kostin at the helm, handling a busy Monday evening crowd with typical charm and humor, and of course giving me well-deserved ribbing that it had been too long since I’d visited. Someone should send me to the chalkboard to write: “I will drink at Naga more often” over a hundred times, with a chaser of a neon-pink Cosmopolitan. But seriously, if I’m at a bar that’s spirits-smart, it’s usually bartender’s choice over what he or she is feeling like shaking up. This time I had a plan: Something Old, Something New. I just told Michael I was looking to have two cocktails, something classic and something newfangled. Maybe it was the “old” part of the cocktalian riddle that caught his fancy, but he presented me with these two offerings: the classic Old Cuban, and his latest riff, the Old Brazilian.

The Old Cuban is a rum-based cocktail, originated at the Pegu Club in NYC. It’s a bit like a Mojito with the use of lime and mint, but no seltzer or crushed ice – think of the Old Cuban as the Mojito’s older, more mature sibling who just wants their drink without a fuss. That’s not to say it’s not an elegant drink -- the Old Cuban was served up in a lovely chilled cocktail glass with a delicate mint leaf floating on top. Despite the name, which makes it sound a little like something Hemingway would have asked for with a snarl, it’s quite summery, refreshingly tart with the fresh lime, and the aged rum gives it a sweet richness. Fast forward to the “new” part of the themed cocktail combo – the new/Old Brazilian. Michael swapped out the rum with cachaça, along with some behind the scenes bar magic to modify the recipe to balance it out, and the resulting drink is really smooth and sophisticated. It doesn’t have as strong of a tart citrus edge as its Old Cuban counterpart; the cachaça mellows the drink out, lending a more rounded flavor. It’s actually a great combination to enjoy in that order – the Old Cuban, to sort of wake up your palate with the tartness, and then the Old Brazilian to help one ease into the evening.

As always, letting the bartender design the cocktails for the evening is never a bad thing, and even more of a reminder that yes, I need to get out more.

Well done Denise, A+ for you (and apologies if I mixed the photos up, let us know in the comments please)

New member Chelsea took this homework on as her very first LUPEC project!
je vois la vie en rose
Since sometime last year, I've had half of a page torn out of Sunset Magazine lying somewhere in the proximity of my desk/record player stand right next to it. I think that my Dad tore it out of an issue and then showed my Mom who then passed it on to me. This torn half-page details Sambar, a southeast Ballard bar located right next to Le Gourmand. The photo in the Sunset blurb shows two tables in a garden and the words tell of a cocktails and French-tinged loveliness. We were all intrigued, but I still hadn't been.

My recent acceptance into Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC) found me with a homework assignment: attend one of ten or so bars around Seattle known for well-crafted cocktails and report back. Sambar and I finally had an excuse to meet. Here is the result, illustrated by my photos.

The entrance reminds you that Sambar is closed on Sunday and Monday.

The weather was close to warm, so I took a seat in the garden, facing out to the street. Lined with roses and a variety of potted plants, you could be just about anywhere when you're ensconced there.

My favorite cocktails include rum, so I started with La Martinique, which had rhum agricole vieux (old sugar-cane based rum from Martinique), lime juice, and Clement Creole Shrubb (a rhum agricole-based orange liqueur). Served in a martini glass, it came with a large piece of orange peel, which you don't see everywhere. The drink was well-made, having that general citrus-y bite you get when you combine rum, citrus, and citrus-based liqueur. Could the glass have been a little bit more full? Hard to say, but I'd have ordered another one either way.

Oh, and I ordered the very French cheese board to accompany my cocktails which came with plenty of delicious bread.

I branched out for my second cocktail and tried the Freya, made of aquavit, kirsh, sour cherry, lemon, and maraschino. Aquavit on its own is not my thing (much to my aquavit-loving Father's chagrin) but I thought the other ingredients would balance it out nicely. They did! And it was nice to look at too - such a beautiful ruby color in the highball glass! The taste was fruity but not too fruity and sweet but not too sweet. A perfect refreshment for a late spring day.

I can do no comparing to past cocktails at Sambar, but these were as well-crafted as any others I've consumed around Seattle, including the Zig Zag. I'll visit Sambar again this summer and while the garden was lovely, I really enjoy watching my drinks being made, so next time I'll sit at the bar. But if Seattle ever sees a hot summer day this year, look for me back in the garden, cocktail in hand.

Sambar is located at 425 N.W. Market Street | Seattle, WA 98107

More photos of Sambar on my flickr page.
Kudos Chelsea for the great write up and photos! A+!
Leslie sent in her report about Mulleady's after heading there with Jan one night:

Travis was there last evening and brought over our aged negroni's.  Soooo smooth & delicious!  Travis said that it could be considered a Negroni for beginners as it's so smooth.  That was my favorite cocktail of the evening.  I don't even remember seeing it on the menu, either. 

I had high hopes for one of their 'sour's as you know I like a little egg in my drink sometimes.  The waitress said she doesn't get many orders for either of the ones on the menu, but said out of the 2 she would recommend the *Trinidad* -- Angostura, Lemon, Orgeat, Wild Turley 101.  Neither Jan nor I cared for it as it has some kind of strange spicing to it not unlike pumpkin spicing, which neither of us care for in drinks.  The waitress said that flavor could have come from the amount of angostura they use (which I normally like), or maybe their housemade Orgeat. 

My 3rd drink was the
London Calling
Plymouth Gin, Grapefruit, Juniper Syrup, Pechauds ... I was ready for something refreshing after the pumpkin spice-ish drink (which I didn't finish) and this hit the mark.  It had a good grapefruit flavor, that would make it a good choice for a brunch cocktail.

I had a taste of Jan's Manhatten...*Peaty Burns* – Scotch, Lagavulin, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, Pimento Dram.  It was quite strong and excellent...

Out of all the food dishes we tried, the Fried Oyster Po Boy was the winner of the night... Jan also really liked the pickled fruit and veggies.  I liked the curried Cauliflower dip with pita more than her.  We both liked the rhubarb goat cheese tart to some extent.  I want to go back to try their burger, which I've heard excellent things about and to try more cocktails!  Great place!

Thanks Leslie! I'm a big fan of the London Calling and the Aged Negroni also. A only for the absence of photos :)

Jan recounted her evening at Mulleady’s also:

On Friday night, Leslie and I went to Mulleady’s Irish Pub to do some serious LUPEC homework.  It was my second visit (the first being our LUPEC event) and Leslie’s first.  We arrived around 7:00, found a good table and were welcomed warmly by our server who went over the specials.  Leslie mentioned to her that we knew Wendy Miller and that she had suggested the cask-aged Negroni, so we both started off with that.  In a couple of minutes, the bartender came over to welcome us, chat for a bit about LUPEC, the cask-aged Negroni and to thank us for coming in.  The Negronis arrived and we thought they were delicious…a bit more round and smooth than a regular Negroni…sort of a Negroni for beginners as our server put it.

For nibbles, we ordered the Savory Rhubarb tart  with goat cheese, garlic and pine nuts (light, savory and quite tasty); the Curried Cauliflower dip (fine, but not very curryish); the Pot of Pickles (Leslie found these on the sweet side, but I thought they were good and quite tart—who’s right?) and then we shared an Oyster Po’boy (crunchy, perfectly fried oysters with a slightly spicy slaw--the hit of the evening!). 

We also ordered another round of drinks.  I had the Peaty Burns, made with Lagavulin Scotch, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, Pimento Dram and comes in an old-fashioned glass with a big, round ice ball in it.  I’d had it before and it was just as good this time as the last…smokey, sweet and strong, but perfectly balanced.  Leslie ordered the Trinidad Sour (Angostura, Lemon, Orgeat, Wild Turkey and an egg white) which was good but had a stronger taste of allspice than she cared for.  When we asked about it, we were told that there’s quite a large amount of the Angostura in it.   Last up was the London Calling:  Plymouth Gin, Grapefruit, Juniper Syrup, Pechauds which was very good and we both agreed would make a lovely brunch drink.  We also gave in to temptation at this point and ordered the fries with tomato jam and aioli…they were really good fries!

I really wish Mulleady’s was closer to my neighborhood.  It’s a great mix of casual and delicious pub fare, great cocktails and friendly, efficient service.  Can’t wait to go back, have another Peaty Burns,  a Po’ Boy and try the burger!
Jan also gets an A, should of had that camera with ya!

Karen Ann Kenyon did double duty by posting her review in the Seattle Cocktail Culture App comments regarding Zig Zag:

The ever charming and eminently professional Erik Hakkinen is now on Th-Su. Sad for those of us that enjoyed his endless supply of Simpsons quotes, stories from his travels, and extra attention on slower Mondays. But the Thursday crowd I witnessed last week seemed unfazed by Murray's departure and drinking some of the city's best cocktails with gusto. And I still got a couple of stories.

When your proteges can carry on without faltering, you know you've done well. Bravo Zulu, Murray!

Even though there are no pictures and we don't know what she drank she still gets an A cuz she plugged my App :p
Lauren chose an outing at Rob Roy with some poor ladies not lucky enough to be in LUPEC:

I was meeting some non-LUPEC friends for dinner at Tàvolata and they were wanting to go someplace for drinks first so, naturally, I suggested Rob Roy. We sat on one of the comfy couches up front and sampled cocktails from their Happy Hour menu. A couple of them ordered the Italian Buck and I ordered the Dark and Fernet-y. How could I resist? I loves me some Fernet. That turned out to be the girls favorite drink and they each ordered one for their second round. Me? I had my usual classic martini – which they do oh so well. I love Rob Roy.

Lauren gets an A even though I know she has been to Rob Roy both during the meeting there and multiple occasions before and after that because she did not divulge all our LUPEC secrets to non LUPEC ladies!
Our fabulous Venezuelan Valentina wrote:

June was LUPEC homework month. I'm still very shy when it comes to giving my impressions about cocktails, spirits and liqueur. So my report is going to be done within the limits of my comfort zone this time, and I'm going to tell the two things I discovered during June thanks to our assignment. The first one is that cocktails have been the ones helping me to fall in love with a flavor I did not like before: bitter. Growing up in the Caribbean area of South America, I was exposed to diverse flavors BUT despite this, bitterness has a very small space in my country's cuisine. I used to frown at it and stay away when it was present in food or beverages. Now, when I get that first kick of bitter, I let the liquid touch and linger around the roof of my mouth, then soak my taste buds to finally let it go while breathing in. I'm deeply in love with it, and that sentiment applies to food, too. One of my "bitter" but super sweet discoveries of this Summer was Cocchi Americano. Thanks to Artusi for that!

The second thing I discovered is that the more I dive into the cocktail world, the more I pace myself when going out to drink. Not that I used to get wasted before, but now I can live happily if I do two cocktails per night. I spend more time with my drink and enjoy it almost like a dinner course. Plus, I've incorporated drinking water into the dynamic which helps me not only to feel hydrate but to taste the drinks better. I'm not going to go to much into it because, as I said, I'm a novice.

Of course, I'm sharing more than words. I made some photos of my favorite drinks around Seattle and I'm passing them along. Enjoy y ¡salud!

Game (bourbon, Grand Marnier, Luxardo and Rachel's Ginger Beer) at La Bete in Capitol Hill. It's my favorite drink here, and one of my favorite in Seattle. After the cocktail is crafted, the bartender sprinkles it with a tiny bit of salt. The salt  falls onto the bottom of the glass so the last sip is salty and delicious. 
Star Gazer (rye, Lillet Blanc, hourse orange bitters) at La Bete in Capitol Hill. My husband's favorite (yes, he came along most of the times I was doing homework!)
Hot Charlotte at Tavern Law. Yes, I cheated on Zig Zag.

A for Valentina for although she didn't go to any of the places she was suppose to she takes amazing photos and has a way with words, even the ones that aren't natively hers!

And last but not lease Courtney says:

For the first of the month's LUPEC excursions, Tracy Meeker and I, along with several other ladies, descended upon the crew at Sambar. It seemed fitting as it was where last summer's homework took place, and also marked my one-year anniversary with the ladies who liquid lunch. To start the evening off, I ordered the Le Zefir, a combination of old Tom gin, Gran Classico and lavender bitters. The drink was a wonderful combination of bitter and sweet and the lavender petals sprinkled on top served as a sophisticated, aromatic  garnish. For my second drink, I put myself in Jay's capable hands and ordered a spirit-forward pisco drink. What I received highlighted the spirit very well and was also very tasty, though I can't exactly remember what the other ingredients were. And as far as food goes, we couldn't help ourselves and ordered some of Sambar's fabulous frites.

For my second outing, Tracy and I made our way to Magnolia to revisit Mulleady's Pub. My first drink was the Oaxacan Old Fashioned from their menu. It came with a sphere of ice and a lime covered in salt that was balanced over the mixture of agave nectar, mescal and mole bitters. As time passed, the salt added more depth and flavor to the cocktail. It was smoky and delicious. For my second drink I ordered the Red Hook, which is one of my favorites and it didn't disappoint. Tracy and I also ate dinner there and enjoyed a savory rhubarb tart, the homemade veggie burger, and some of Mulleady's homemade pickles that arrived at our table in their own mason jar. It was a lovely evening.

An A+ for Courtney and Tracy because even though there are no pictures they went to TWO places!!

I almost missed the note from Rachel, sorry about that lady!! Here's her account of Sambar:

As mentioned here before, I belong to LUPEC Seattle — the local branch of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails. Our monthly outings are masterfully organized by Wendy Miller.
For June, in lieu of our traditional LUPEC gathering, she assigned homework: visit any of the bars LUPEC visited in the last year.
Sambar stood out from her list, but led me to question whether it was really a year ago that I visited last. Turns out, yes, it had been too long. So, when Courtney suggested a few of us gather for a study session, I jumped at the offer.
We convened soon after our workdays, as the sun was still pretty high. I took notes:
- My warm up — Noir Satiné. Rye Whiskey, Strega, Cocchi Vermouth, Black Tea, Lemon Bitters. This worked. I liked the hint of black tea and lemon. The complex combination defeated lingering negative side effects of a challenging workday. Our merry little group was rolling right along.
- When it was time to order again, my eyes drifted to the food menu, despite original intentions to the contrary. I’d coveted Valentina’s Croque-Monsieur across the table, and ham and grilled cheese turned out to be a delicious accompaniment for the next cocktail.
- Clémence. Genever, Pineau-des-Charentes, Apricot, Créme de Pêche, Lemon, Pastis. The Genever and Pastis bookends in the listing jumped out, and when the drink arrived, it was a refreshing hit with the whole table.
- There was opportunity for more, but responsibility was calling my name.
- Then, right after the tab was settled, I noticed several no-octane options that I would have chosen had I noticed. Ah, next time.
And there will be a next time, especially with Courtney, Tracy, Valentina, Cameo, and Heather. Thank you, ladies, for the great evening!

Rachel gets an A+ cuz her write up and pictures are AWESOME and she has not bitched me out for missing her entry on the first go round :)

Well done ladies, I don't know what your rep was like in school but you're all honor students here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and hopefully encouraging others to get out there and revisit the places that sometimes drop off our radar for whatever the reason. 


Friday, May 13, 2011

May Meeting- Woodinville Whiskey Co

With permission from new LUPEC lady Janice Vache I'm reposting her blog entry about our meeting/class this month. Great to see everyone, learn about WWCo and raise a little money for the Red Cross.

You can see her full blog at IceClinkDrink,  thanks for the post Janice and welcome to the club!


Not Your Pappy’s Moonshine

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

April Meeting- BOKA

April's meeting was at BOKA, the restaurant and bar connected to the Hotel 1000. Recently BOKA hired Mi Suk Ahn (formally of Brasa, The Living Room and Licorous) as their bar manager.

Mi Suk was kind enough to create a special cocktail menu for the evening complete with space to write tasting notes on. Drinks were presented from lightest to heaviest and suggested in the following order:

Le LUPEC- Beefeater, Moscato Grappa, Creme de Violette, champagne float. This was a perfect way to start the night! Dry with just a hint of floral. Bubbles are always a choice.

#11 plus- Meyer lemon & Bay leaf infused gin, St Germain, Campari, orange twist. My notes on this are "Perfect!" Such a great balance of bitter, citrus and gin. yummmm.

LUPEC Manhattan- Basil Hayden, Luxardo, sweet vermouth, cherry bitters. I didn't have this one but heard many rave reviews and saw many many Manhattans being served.

Old Girl's Club- Scotch, Cynar, dry vermouth, caperberry garnish. Another that I missed (not being a Scotch girl) so if one of you had this please comment about it!

Bishop- Cardinal Mendoza Brandy, Fino Sherry, lemon juice, champagne float, cherry garnish. Another very good cocktail, this one a bit on the tart side.

All these delicious drinks were served along side mountains of truffle fries, pretzel sausage dots, tuna tartare, chicken wings and beef skewers. The food was all equally delicious!

Big thanks to Mi Suk and Tawny Paperd of BOKA for being such awesome hosts! BOKA also has complimentary valet parking for customers. If you haven't been lately to try out Mi Suk's new menu get there soon!

Monday, March 28, 2011

LUPEC Seattle at Tales in Vancouver

Earlier this month some of the members of LUPEC attended the Tales of the Cocktail mini event in Vancouver, BC. We had a great time! I wrote a piece about it for my blog which I'm re-posting here. 

Additionally there was this great shot of us in the Root tasting suite on Facebook.

Tales of the Cocktail- Vancouver Edition

For the first time Tales of the Cocktail decided to do a mini event and they chose Vancouver, BC for the location. Lucky for me as it is super close, I have friends to visit up there and it's a great drinking and eating place to go. Luckier for me some of the LUPEC ladies and their significant others decided to go too!

Instead of having seminars over multiple days, this mini Tales had you choose 3 seminars all on the same day. Here's what I went to on Monday March 14th.

10:30am: Famous New Orleans Cocktails. A really nice history of the cocktails that were born and bred in NOLA as told by Chris McMillian (bar historian extraordinaire) and Philip Green (descendant of the Peychaud's family) from The Museum of the American Cocktail.

We started the morning with a Sazerac and learned that it was one of the (if not THE) very first cocktail originally "prescribed" by pharmacists to cure what ails ya. Next we were served a Julep along with information of the Juleps and Sherry Cobblers being the original ice drinks. America was first with the building of ice houses and thus America invented the first ice cocktails. In pre Civil War times the Mint Julep was made with Brandy or Rum (to be honest that is still my preferred Julep).

Moving on to the Ramos Gin Fizz we learned of Henry Ramos, the most noted bartender in New Orleans. His bar was not a loud and brash joint but a very upscale retreat for gentleman (ladies weren't allowed in bars at the time). His Gin Fizz was a beloved cocktail and he made it and other libations until Prohibition came into law. On that day he closed his doors and people have been messing about with the original recipe since. There is a great article that was discussed posted here (along with the original recipe). And as part of our education on Mr. Ramos we all shook up a Gin Fizz for our 3rd drink of the morning.

During Prohibition we learned of Izzy & Moe, the notorious alcohol enforcement agents who would dress up in elaborate disguises to find illegal booze and the bartenders/speakeasy's who were providing it. Of course these hard working agents relaxed in their off time with beer and whiskey.

And last but not least we learned the sad tale of the Hurricane. A once delicious cocktail developed to use up the mass quantities of rum that a certain Pat O'Brien bar owner had in his inventory. Marketed to whiskey loving New Orleaners by serving it in a big fancy glass it became a hit. No one knows how it evolved to the slushy regret abhorrence of today, but a real Hurricane is still a great cocktail!

Noon: cocktail count 4

1:30pm: The History and Importance of Ice in Cocktails. Hendrick's ambassadors Charlotte Voisey and Jon Santer's seminar had the best swag ever. Seriously! Hand made Lewis Bags from Allison Weber of Portland and gorgeous wood muddlers to use with them.

Charlotte started by telling us all about Fredrick Tutor, the first person to harvest ice for business, to build and control ice houses to store the blocks and take ice to Havana (as well as other warm weather places). He was a man of great vision and without him we'd probably be drinking warm gin and tonics as the Europeans still do! She discussed refrigeration and it's importance to the time period as well as how ice is actually harvested.
Jon then stepped in and gave us a little lesson about Nathaniel Wyeth, an ice harvester who created just about every ice carving tool still used today. Jon demonstrated how different ice (of both size and shape) dilutes and what size is better for various drinks.

We were served two Cobblers, both without ice but using our new Lewis bags we crushed ice and heaped it into one of them. The other got just a few pieces. After a bit we tried both to see how cold and dilution affected this classic drink. And we learned that if you looked at the the crushed bits of ice they looked like cobblestones, hence the name.
Then Jon pulled out his chain saw and cut up a huge block of crystal clear ice. People donned plastic rain parkas. Of course he did and of course they did, this is Tales after all. Fun tip from the seminar; fill balloons with water and freeze, peel off balloon for different sized ice. I'm making balloon animal ice for our next party.
3:00pm: cocktail count 7

4:00pm: Who's Your Daddy? A Mai Tai Paternity Test. Jeff Berry, the most passionate and dedicated Tiki drink historian around, finally answered the question of who invented the Mai Tai. We listened to "testimony" about Harry Owens, Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber while sipping on various Mai Tai recipes. There weren't any objections and the court most certainly was not in order but the slide show was full of vintage recipes, vessels, bars and island girls.

At the end of it all we came to the conclusion that Don the Beachcomber created something called the QB Cooler which may have influenced Trader Vic in his mixing but the Mai Tai is all Vic's.
Original recipe from the 1940's:

  • 2 oz Wray & Nephew 17 Year Old Rum
  • .5 oz orgeat
  • .5 oz orange curacao
  • .25 oz simple syrup
  • Juice of one lime (approx. .75 oz lime juice)
Mix all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a glass over crushed ice. Garnish with lime shell and a sprig of mint.

5:30pm: cocktail count 9

Of course Tales isn't all seminars and notes. There were parties, cocktails and bar crawls, soup dumplings and midnight croquet, delicious dinner and tasty cochon de lait lunch. Laissez les bon temps roulez, eh?