Stumbled across a yummy find awhile back that I thought I would share as we head into Summer gin & tonic season. We like to set out a variety of gins for a ‘help yourself’ G&T station during the sunny months when we have guests out on the island. It is a fun way for them to try something new or stay with an old favorite. The blue from this bottle of Citadelle quickly caught my eye, the fact that it is made in France sealed the deal for me. And then we tried it with guests a few weeks ago. Oh boy, really tasty. I had never heard of it until I spotted that blue bottle. From the bit of quick searching I have surmised that the brand has been given new life in the past several years. As it was produced in the 17th century, Citadelle gin is distilled in small copper pot stills with a naked flame. Using centuries old know-how passed down through five generations of master distillers, Alexandre Gabriel and the Pierre Ferrand cellar master have brought back to market a complex, refined and elegant gin. Look for the beautiful blue bottle. Cheers to Summer!
I am the type of martini drinker that does not even open the vermouth bottle while making my own. Just glancing at the bottle while I am shaking the shaker away is just fine by me. So the fact that I am liking a reverse martini comes as quite a big surprise to me. This all came about when I was finishing up my latest read Dearie, about Julia Child. Whether or not she came up with this idea I am not certain, but it is the first I had ever heard of it. A reverse martini is 2/3 vermouth to a 1/3 gin. Shaken and then served over ice. I first gave this a try the other day at Hawthorne, and I really liked it. Super refreshing. It has the feel of a Summer drink. I don’t really drink martinis during the hot months, as they seem to get warm as opposed to super chilled, which is how I really like them. Plus a big tub of gin in the heat makes me sleepy. With this, the vermouth becomes the star. The gin is just a stylish background singer. A fresh bottle of vermouth is helpful. My studying around on the topic found that vermouth can loose a bit of its fabulousness when old. So often a bottle can last ages, so easy to see this happening. We had a newish bottle of Dolin that worked quite lovely. Julia preferred Noilly Prat, so we picked up a bottle of that yesterday, which meant I had to give it a test run last night. Insert smile. I think I actually preferred the Noilly. Julia gets it right again.
Gin will replace vino for this Wine Wednesday post. Not a bad swap if you are a gin fan. Tastings can be a fun way to start a gathering or party. A few weeks ago out on the island we did a tasting with dear friends and it was a fun thing to kick off a Sunday afternoon of relaxing, sharing stories and dining. Just put out a few different bottles of gin. We thought we would also add a variety of tonic options too, as they can really change the taste of a gin & tonic. Next lime and cucumber slices. I started on a cucumber kick in the last year with gin, particularly Hendrick’s, as the flavor of the cuc really enhances the flavor of the drink. Next a big bucket of ice and glasses and off you go. You can make them for your guests, or it be a self-serve station. Interesting to mix & match gin and tonic options. Watch the conversations and stories begin to flow.
I am up early and flying to Las Vegas this morning. Yes, you read that right. Las Vegas. Can’t really think of a place I am less suited for, but the city is now home to one of the largest furniture markets in the states. They have added a gifts & decorative accessories show to the mix, so I thought I would check it out. Actually, I am really excited for a few days of focused buying for Watson Kennedy. So off I go. Will post about it all in the coming days. Oh, and it is only supposed to be 106 degrees today. I think I see a G&T in my future…
We were given some very special bottles of gin for Holiday gifts–I guess our friends know of our love of Friday eve martinis. One bottle was a type I knew very little about and had only tried a few times. Having our very own bottle has changed that, and I have done a bit of research on this spiffy, somewhat apothecary style bottle. Distilled in Alameda, California, St. George Spirits has been around for 30 years. Terroir gin is an ode to the wild beauty of the Golden State. This profoundly aromatic gin is forest driven and earthy. Think Douglas fir, California bay laurel, coastal sage–and you have one very unique sipping gin or one amazing martini. Plus the bottle looks quite cool sitting out to be visually enjoyed. Good stuff.
I snapped this photo of the black glass martini shaker weeks ago when I was straightening up things around the shop. We have carried these for quite some time, but the beauty of it really caught me eye. Such a handsome shaker–perfect for whipping up a batch of martinis.
Speaking of martinis, we stayed true to a portion of our Friday night ritual last eve. We arrived in New York around 7, and had the car take us right to the London Terrace where we are staying in an apartment for the time we are here. Such a lovely, lovely building. One of my favorite things about the city is all the amazing things you can get delivered right to your door. A quick spin for a few provisions while TPS was out on his walk with Bailey, and we had fixings for our cocktail. A quick call and in no time we were sitting in the apartment having an out of this world Italian meal with our martini. Welcome to New York!
Small batch tonic, now that has a nice ring to it. New to the shelves at Watson Kennedy, and just in time for Summer g&t’s, is Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. small batch tonic. This is not your ordinary somewhat bitter tonic. This is made with lemongrass and orange peel, along with quinine, to give the mixture a very herbaceous-ness flavor. I made TPS one last night, and he said it has a very ‘green’ flavor to it. Super refreshing. And once again, I am smitten with the bottle and packaging. These fellows from Charleston have come up with a winner–what is in the bottle is as good as what is on the outside.
Sitting by the fire reading a book, is a lovely thing. Sitting by the fire reading a book while sipping on a martini is a really lovely thing. I think of martinis as very social cocktails. A proper martini glass, laughter, friends. But I really have been enjoying an abbreviated version while reading a book by the fire before dinner on the week-end. A WestWard martini is my quick version of a favorite cocktail, while avoiding all of the bells and whistles.
A simple glass will do. Shake gin with a dash of vermouth if you must, but pouring it right into the glass is fine too. If the bottle of gin has been waiting in the freezer, all the better. The key is having an ice cube in the glass, waiting. Since I have been into the jumbo ice cubes of late, all the better. Skewer an olive, and you are set. Book optional.
Our Friday night tradition of martinis and pizza began ages ago. I love the high/low of it all. We often times have friends over, as it is a super relaxing way to entertain after a busy week. This last Friday, we had friends over who had given us an incredibly beautiful red Elsa Peretti “thumbprint” bowl for a wedding present in the summer. I really wanted to set the table using the bowl–the Venetian glass having the slightest shimmer from a dusting of gold leaf on the interior. I knew it would be great in the center of the table. I found the prettiest yellow tulips with bits of red running throughout that would be perfect with the bowl, as well as the red and gold lidded apothecary jars. Vintage Wedgwood plates with a gold rim that were a gift from my sister would pull it all together. Scented geraniums in pots that are growing like weeds would be fun. The curly, dancing stems seeming to mimic the lines of the bowl. I had yet to use the roll of paper tablecloth we sell at Watson Kennedy, so this was the chance.
We arrived in New York late yesterday afternoon after a fairly bumpy flight and a rough landing, so I am happy to have my feet back on the ground. It is an early start, as I have tons of ground to cover in 3 days of walking the show. I will share some of my favorite finds tomorrow…
As I type this, I still shake my head a little. Today we celebrate our 24th anniversary–my how time flies. It seems just like yesterday that we shared our first meal together. I/we feel so fortunate, thankful & blessed, for many, many things.
We had a meal last night prepared by chef Madden Surbaugh, who has a seasonal restaurant on Orcas Island. He was in Seattle last eve cooking a ‘farm to table’ meal for a small group of us. It really was extra special, as well as incredibly tasty, I really wanted to share it with all of you. To throw things over the top, each course was served with a special cocktail, many gin based, so we knew we were in for a lively night with much laughter.
All of the food and alcohol was from purveyors in the San Juan Islands. They were present too, and each talked a bit about their offerings. Many of you who read these posts I know have a major love of food, as we do. Here is the menu in its very descriptive entirety. I thought you would enjoy the level of detail.
Baked smelt in pastry with bitter orange, caramelized fennel and thyme stuffing. Brown butter sherry vinaigrette and marcona almonds. Served with a ’12 Anderson’ which is gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, champagne and orange bitters.
Then roasted pork jowl with a poached egg (the color of the jolk reminded me of a Bresse egg from France, it was so fresh & orange) served with brandade cream. It was served with a ‘Hard Pressed’ which is made up of apple eau de vie, lemon juice, cider vinegar, maple syrup and soda water.
Next up was curried oysters with a celeriac & apple salad. The drink for this course was Wescott Bay dry cider.
Then onto the meat course. Braised goat with a root vegetable empanada & gremolata. It was served with a ‘Suzy P’ which is gin, sweet vermouth, lavender rose liquor, lime juice, cucumber and creole bitters.
And finally dessert. A tea cake with grapefruit panna cotta, white chocolate caramel and brazil nuts. It was served with a ‘General Equality’ which is Earl grey tea, nasturtium liquor, gin, lemon juice and Peychaud’s bitters.
I hope you enjoyed the descriptions. It was a lovely, memorable evening and meal. The perfect way to kick-off our anniversary week-end!
Being a retailer during the Holidays means little to no travel, as being away from the shops is just not in the picture. But I still long to see close friends who live far away and catch up on what is happening in their life, and just have a nice long chat. That is where the phone-tini comes in. Sitting and chatting with a friend whilst having a cocktail rates pretty high in my book. The phone-tini allows that to happen while on a long distance phone call. Last night, I had a phone-tini scheduled with my nearest & dearest CoCo. It was an 8 o’clock scheduled call where we made martinis at the same time at the beginning of the call–shakers shaking in the background as the conversation began. TPS was at a work dinner, so I came home right after work, fed and walked Bailey, had dinner, lit the candles in the living room, and prepared the fixings for my cocktail. At 8 o’clock the call began. I sat in my favorite comfy leather chair, and we chatted for close to 2 hours. Heaven. It felt like CoCo was sitting in the room with me, chatting away, having a martini as we would do if she was visiting. A perfect way to end a busy, busy day.