Paul Clarke

I'm a Seattle-based writer and editor who was bitten by the mixology bug a few years ago, and has spent every available hour since reading about, talking about, mixing (and occasionally drinking) fine spirits and cocktails.

  • Website
  • Location: Seattle
  • Favorite foods: sushi, gumbo, crab enchiladas -- if it's fishy & spicy, I'm on it.
  • Last bite on earth: Who thinks about food at a moment like this? I'd wrap up the whole shebang with the ultimate Sazerac -- a big pour of Thomas Handy Sazerac rye with Peychaud's bitters, in a glass -- a BIG glass -- rinsed with Jade's Nouvelle Orleans absinthe.

Michael Neff and Carey Jones Look Back on Tales of the Cocktail

Carey -- thanks for the shout-out on the vermouth seminar; it's a sleeper topic, but we're all very excited about how it's starting to grow. Great to meet you at Tales, albeit very briefly.

Michael -- I think my favorite new product was Larceny bourbon, from Heaven Hill, which debuted during the Saturday tasting session. Wheated bourbon (essentially Old Fitzgerald w/ a different age and proof), to be marketed at an incredibly reasonable $25-ish retail. Groundbreaking? No -- but at a time when certain Kentucky distilleries are relabeling their old stock and introducing it in the $40 and up range, an incredibly refreshing approach for a very respectable product.

Hot Weather Booze: Essential Summer Spirits

Gaaah! How could I forget the Pimm's!?! Agreed, an essential in the summer arsenal--thanks for reminding me...

Ron de Jeremy Rum: Celebrity-label Booze Takes a Weird Turn

Nice one -- I look forward to a slew of these.

Time for a Drink: Arancio Americano

No, this is the typical sweet red vermouth (aka Italian or "rosso" vermouth) -- blanc or bianco vermouth is sweet white vermouth, but it doesn't have the same level of sweetness or balance of flavor that you're looking for in this drink. The Cocchi vermouth in the photo is a brand of sweet Italian red vermouth that's just entering the U.S., not to be confused with Cocchi Aperitivo Americano, a white aperitif wine from the same producer.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Drinks

@Umama: Will's right -- it wasn't me.

Two New Whiskies Rev Up Bourbon and Rye

Every Kentucky-produced bourbon is made using a column still, even Woodford Reserve, which uses pot stills for part of its production. This has been the case for well over a century, and Kentucky distillers produce more than 95 percent of all bourbon. Even the small-batch bourbons bottled in limited quantities under boutique labels are produced at one of the major (read: industrial) distilleries, then purchased by the barrel and bottled by these smaller firms.

Small-scale artisanal distilling is a nice idea and a noble goal, but for bourbon, things haven't worked that way in generations.

Two New Whiskies Rev Up Bourbon and Rye

Bulleit is priced in the mid-$20s; Knob Creek is upper $30s

A Fresh Look at Apricot Brandy

You don't see a lot of apricot eau de vie on the shelf; one I really enjoy is Blume Marillen from Austria (it's imported by the same company that brings in the Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot, and there may even be a connection between the brandy and the liqueur but I'm not absolutely sure of that). There's also Zwack Barack Palinka from Hungary; it's been years since I've tried it and I can't recall the quality.

Bachelor's Jam: Preserving Fresh Summer Fruits with Booze

@Simon - if you're looking for neutrality, I suppose vodka is the definition; I usually try to either use something that's a good cross-platform spirit (brandy or a light or amber rum), or something that's well-suited for a particular fruit -- cherries and/or peaches are dandy with bourbon. Grappa may be very grappa-ey, but if you like that edge, then go for it. And I should note that for fruits such as plums, gin is a good way to go -- there's a certain level of neutrality, but the botanicals work well with the stone-fruit flavor.

@aubreyb - you mainly just want a non-reactive container (so, no plastic or metals that may react with acid / alcohol). Glass is fine, you just want to keep it in a cool, dark place -- and as long as you're using 80 proof or higher spirits, no refrigeration is necessary until you strain off the liquid.

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Alcohol Delivers Flavor, Just as Fat Does in Food

That's why I said "most spirits are diluted with water before being bottled" -- certainly, there are exceptions, but for much of the whiskey in the marketplace, water is added to bring it down to bottle proof.

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Alcohol Delivers Flavor, Just as Fat Does in Food

True, but in this context of talking about the proof of spirits, "bonded" translates as 100 proof.

Time for a Drink: the Michelada

Actually, I'm not the Clamato type, though some folks like it that way. But as far as ruining the beer -- um, I don't think so. This is a pretty common drink in parts of Mexico and increasingly in the U.S.; many, many satisfied drinkers can't be all wrong.

Time for a Drink: The Kangaroo, aka Vodka Martini

See? Exactly my point from the closing paragraph.

Let's at least give a hand to the circa 1950 anonymous drink slinger who hung the "Kangaroo" monicker on this cocktail rather than going straight for the big 'Tini. Unknown bartender, whoever you were, a gin-drinking world thanks you for at least giving this new-name thing a try.

The 25 Most Influential Cocktails of the Past Century

Sorry, full article's not online yet (I'll put up a link once it is) -- a quick listing of the drinks is here:

Time for a Drink: Princeton Cocktail

This is for one drink. Two ounces of base spirit plus another ounce or so of lower-alcohol modifier such as port, sherry or vermouth is pretty standard; there are many drinks, old and new, that follow this pattern and use roughly the same amount of ingredients.


Campari is an Italian amaro, or bitter liqueur, typically consumed as an aperitif. It's garnet-red and memorably bitter -- it'll scare the hell out of you the first time you taste it, but after a few tries it becomes absolutely captivating.

Here's the full wikipedia entry on Campari, and here's the site for Campari USA.

Time for a Drink: Hai Karate

@david e: I now resolve to create a drink and name it the "Mennen Speed Stick". Might as well come up with an "Old Spice" and an "English Leather" while I'm at it.

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Eggs (Whites and Yolks) in Cocktails

Counts as what, exactly?

Just because the fizz originated as a morning eye-opener around 150 years ago doesn't mean it's constrained to play that role for all time, does it? Historical applications aside, a fizz is flavorful, fizzy, and refreshing -- properties that are valuable even (or especially) after the sun goes down.

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Benedictine Turns 500

@jason_wilson: What, conflicting or inaccurate information sent out in press materials? But that never happens!

Then again, I recall receiving a press release from a PR firm representing a prominent brand of vermouth, in which it was stated that vermouth was virtually identical to absinthe but had been legally available during the long absinthe ban. That one required an intense "WTF?" string of calls and e-mails. Turns out to have started as a translation error that led to a junior PR rep going freewheeling with the facts -- not that it was caught before the release was blasted to journalists across the country.

Thanks for pointing out your info, and for everybody else: this is how the editorial sausage is made.

@sidecar: it's been too long since I had a Voyager -- I agree, very tasty. Hmm, maybe we're due for a Drinkboy cocktail in the Time for a Drink column....

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Benedictine Turns 500

Hmm, I took that tidbit of info from the Washington Post story -- thanks for clearing up that detail.

Holiday Eggnog

@chrisfurniss - the whiskey is not banished; as I mention, you can simply swap it for the rum or brandy (or both) in the recipe, if that's the way your tastes go. But really, try it some time with rum and brandy -- you'll see why so many recipes call for the combination.

@2ndstage - fantastic! Glad she liked it -- and nice improv with the dark brown sugar.

Gift Guide: For the Cocktail Enthusiast

@KinOfCain I second your recommendations on anything Black Maple Hill (my favorite rye out there) and Highland Park, and I need to check out the Lagavulin DE PX. Thanks for the suggestions!

Time for a Drink: San Martin

If you add the ice first, the clock is ticking, and every second it takes you to mix that drink means there's more dilution going on. While the ice is usually added first in the fast-paced environment of a bar, when mixing at home (or in a more leisurely bar, for that matter) you can better control dilution by adding the spirits and other ingredients to the glass first, then adding the ice just before you stir or shake.

Quince Brandy

It's going to depend on your taste -- don't break the bank on an expensive bottle, but also avoid the bottom shelf. I use a basic, no-frills Chalfonte VSOP, as I tend to mix it in cocktails rather than drink it neat. If purchasing one of the big brands -- Hennessey, Remy, Courvoisier, etc. -- a VS should do the trick without hurting your wallet too much, or if you want something a little more plush the Pierre Ferrand Ambre is a lovely cognac that is also quite reasonably priced.

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: How to Make Quince Brandy

Just closing the jar firmly is fine -- make sure all the solids are covered by liquid when you start off to ensure that no spoilage occurs.

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Apple Toddy

The apple toddy enjoyed immense popularity during the early 1800s, and continued in regular circulation until Prohibition, when it— along with so many other forms of the liquid arts—was mostly forgotten. More