Booze and smoky butter!

Canon, a self-described whiskey and bitters emporium, is definitely deserving of all the buzz and accolades it has earned, including being named one of the best bars in the world by Drinks International in 2014.   Even at 5 p.m. on a Monday night, within minutes after opening, the intimate charming bar was packed with booze lovers.  Count me in!  Perched at the corner of the bar to closely watch the bartenders in action, they did not disappoint and treated us to a show indeed.  Boasting the largest spirit collection in the western hemisphere at 3,500 labels and counting, I just had to ask Hailey, our bartender, how on earth they kept track of where each bottle went.  Out came the iPad with a library of all their spirits by shelf.  Spirit search time!

Canon's wall of booze
Canon’s wall of booze

I was overwhelmed with the huge “lavish libations” menu and had to take some time to choose what to try.  My friends had been to Canon before so went right after some favorites-the “Campfire in Georgia” and the Truffle Old Fashioned.  After lighting up some cinnamon French oak on the plate with a mini-blow torch, Hailey dropped the glass cover over the drink concoction of mescal, peach-habanero shrub and fresh oj to infuse the cocktail with smokiness galore.  Quite the production:

The smokiness theme continued with the Khaleesi Cocktail that features “dragon’s blood smoke” (not kidding!) which is blown into a glass skull and then transferred into a mix of canon high west rye, bourbon, punt e mes, strawberry, and tonka bean.  WTF!  Exotic ingredients that added up to a tasty cocktail for my friend that I got to taste.  Thanks K!

Me and a bottle of aged booze!
Me and a bottle of aged booze!

Now, for my cocktail selection, I decided on a slut theme, starting first with the aged cocktail list offering of the “Hanky Panky” made up of gin, sweet vermouth, fernet branca, orange zest and aged in the cutest little bottle for three years.  Yes, you swig the Hanky straight from the bottle!  That went down just fine and I followed it with The Tramp consisting of Plymouth sloe gin, giffard apricot, fresh lime juice and dry sparking wine.  Less serious but highly entertaining sipping out of a glass this time.  Classy.

With all that alcohol, either load up on some carbs before you go or, better yet, order a basket of bread with smoked butter.  DAMN.  The booze was awesome but the smoked butter was heaven on a baguette.  They have other nibbles including smoked salmon, squash, beef, etc.  Needing something other than bread, I ordered the bourbon nuts.  With one bite of warm caramel corn/pretzel/bourbon smoky nuts, my taste buds swooned again.   I loved their warning on the food menu:

“Alcohol, eggs, sex, undercooked foods and most enjoyable things in life can and will kill you if you give them enough time.  Live life to the fullest until then.”  Amen, Canon.  I’ll be back.

Open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. daily, visit Canon, 928 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill in Seattle.  Be prepared to pay $25 in advance to get a reservation.  Don’t worry-it’s pricey so that $25 will go towards the many cocktails and nibbles you will enjoy.  Life is short.  Cheers!

Hailey mixes up a Khaleesi Cocktail, smoking skull and all!



A Night of Cocktail Exploration


After searching through Yelp for the craftiest cocktail place in downtown Boise, I decided to give the Press & Pony a try.  Aided by my daughter and hubby as the designated driver, we passed through the velvet curtained entryway into a small speakeasy environment with a copper-topped bar and tin-tiled ceiling.  Score-atmosphere galore where the bartenders were knowledgeable and downright hardcore in their stance to serve only the most unique craft cocktails to their customers.

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Absinthe anyone? Press & Pony has atmosphere galore plus well crafted cocktails in downtown Boise, Idaho.

Of course, after reviewing the menu of cocktails (no food here-serious drinking only), I interviewed the bartenders on their most popular drinks and ingredients.  Boy did I get an earful of passionate discourse on the ingredients needed to create cocktail masterpieces.  Settling on the classic Old Fashioned to try first, it did not disappoint.  Eric the Bartender proclaimed their Old Fashioned to be the best in Boise and with the essence of lemon and orange mixed with simple syrup, bourbon and 8 dashes of two types of bitters served in a classic old fashioned tumbler with a big ass ice cube, the better not to melt and dilute the drink I was told, I contently sat back to sip and enjoy this masterpiece of alcohol.  As I brought my nose to the glass, the lemon and orange oils diffused the smell of booze and lightened the bourbon taste.  Delightful!

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House-made tonics and sodas delight even the non-alcoholic sippers
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Shots and Classic Cocktails with complex ingredients

Next up on the cocktail tasting menu for me was the Corpse Reviver No. 2 that combined gin, lillet blanc, Cointreau, lemon juice and an absinthe rinse for good measure.  The name alone compelled me to give it a try plus I had never tried absinthe so the Corpse Reviver was perfect!  Shaken not stirred, it arrived in a short goblet with tiny floats of ice on top.  Delicious with a kick!  Eric pointed out that absinthe is 53 proof and not to be trifled with.  As Hannah put it so aptly when she tasted her Dark + Stormy (dark rum+ginger beer+lime juice) cocktail, “Oh Jesus!” 

In asking Eric about the focused assortment of their liquors behind the bar, he expressed disdain for the standard popular brands like Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniels-not even available at their establishment, thank you very much.  As he put it, if customers come in and ask for vodka or “regular” drinks like Jack & coke, he directs them to the “douche kiddie bars” down the street where it’s all about cheap booze vs. refined cocktails.  Tell us how you really feel, Eric.  I like a bartender with principles.

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Absinthe anyone? Press & Pony has atmosphere galore plus well crafted cocktails in downtown Boise, Idaho.

Next up on the cocktail research tour, we met up with our friend Ryan H. and walked quickly on this single digit frigid night to the Red Feather Lounge, a more mainstream alcohol emporium but with a late night happy hour (yes, we were out that late believe it or not) so we could enjoy hot beignets with warm butterscotch dipping sauce with our cocktails.  Paired with a “Fever of the Mad” (Extra Dry Gin, Herbsaint Pastis,  Fresh Lemon, Fee Bros. Peach Bitters, and Egg Whites) the beignets soaked up all the alcohol just fine.  I had wanted to try a drink featuring egg whites as this is a hot trend now.  The Fever was light, frothy and a perfect way to end a night of intensive cocktail research.  Taking the Red Feather motto to heart, “A bar without bitters is like a kitchen without spice.”, it’s back to Seattle today to continue the research at Canon, one of the top cocktails bars in the nation.  Watch out!

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Absinthe anyone? Press & Pony has atmosphere galore plus well crafted cocktails in downtown Boise, Idaho.

Cocktails anyone?

I have succumbed to the cocktail craze!  When thinking of a new hobby, I had to consider the time it will take, the cost and whether I have a true passion for it…considered and DONE!  So, cocktails it is for my new hobby!  I love my red wine but it’s time to diversify.  Mock me for being a sheep by following the latest hot trend but I will be one happy camper when I’m sipping my homemade appletinis while I gaze out at Elliott Bay.

To start, though, you absolutely MUST have a cocktail cart with all the right tools to mix a masterpiece.  We switched our former turntable cart and then, being the thrifty shopper that I am, I hit up the local Goodwill store where all the Amazonians donate their barware that they no longer need.  I was able to find awesome unique martini glasses ($1.99), an ice bucket ($4.99), shaker ($4.99) and little Pig olive picks ($1.99) to outfit my cart.  Add in the necessary cocktail book found at the used bookstore for $9.99 so I know how to mix up a great martini and I’m on my way.


Tricked out cocktail cart!
Tricked out cocktail cart!

Next, I hit up the World Market in downtown Seattle, one of my favorite stores.  There I got classic cocktail napkins, a jigger, a strainer, a muddler (mojitos!) and stirring spoon to complete my cocktail bar.  They also had these teeny tiny liquor bottles I couldn’t resist–having a hard day at work?  Hit up the little Kahlua or Chambord for a taste!  I still have the little Irish Whiskey bottle I smuggled out of China that we got at the Irish Ball.  Good times in Shanghai!  But, I needed BIG bottles of liquor for my cocktails so I got to visit the local liquor store in Lower Queen Anne for the first time and find the makings for a good appletini.

WOW-hard liquor costs a lot of $$$!  I needed apple schnapps, melon liquor and vodka according to my cocktail book recipe-total cost $65, more than all my bar cart items combined.  But, after mixing my first cocktail for my visiting friends, Patti and Larry, I realized that a little liquor goes a LONG way!  I kept trying to make the appletini less potent but, in the end, just one drink knocked us on our butts.  We are such lightweights!  I followed my cocktail bar recipe but it sure didn’t taste as sweet as the ones we had in the bars of Shanghai.  God only knows what they put into them but DAMN they were tasty!

We’re off to Vancouver, Canada for a long weekend trip.  Patti and I will have to get a bartender there to share his appletini secrets with us so I can come back and mix one last cocktail before Patti and Larry head home to Indiana.  I think to make the winter months more interesting in dreary, wet Seattle, I might challenge myself to a try a different cocktail every weekend.  Now that’s the kind of challenge I can write about!