Tonight's special comes to you in the form of a simple request.
"I'd like a Red-Headed, but without the Red-Headed."
To that, you'd probably first check your blades, then the other patrons. An assassination attempt is certainly imminent.
And then the barkeep sighs, and pushes your way a familiar red potion.
This is known to the worlds forgotten as a ZONKER. Strong, sweet, and terribly tasty.
To mix a Zonker, you'll need some Vodka, fruity liqueur, Amaretto, and Cranberry Juice.
1 oz each of Vodka, Triple Sec, Amaretto, and the Cranberry Juice get tossed into a shaker with ice, and a few shakes later, strained into a glass to enjoy.
+ It's certainly fruity, but...
+ The triple sec overpowers like nobody's business.
+ Miraculously, this isn't fruity ENOUGH.
+ There's too much of that weird cough medicine vibe.
This is when The Lady interjects with her own rendition. Consider instead the following:
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Amaretto
2 oz Cranberry Juice
And suddenly, this is pretty lovely. Add in 1 oz of Peach Schnapps, and you're good to go. For my Lady, one shot's worth is enough here, as it is effectively a dessert at this point. You'll sip down six before you notice the buzz, or suck down a high ball glass of the stuff and feel it for hours.
It's simple, sweet, and terribly fruity.
Imbibe Responsibly at my table.
Today we visit two monsters. The first is the bane of every Chinese restaurant. A beast of liquor and a powerhouse of hidden flavors, perfect for knocking you on your butt and doing little else. This is, of course, the Zombie.
A cornucopia of rums and juices, most complimentary pairings are covered by the sweet and sour, making the effect insidious and arresting.
1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Dark Rum
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Dash of Grenadine
2 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Sour Mix
Shake, then top with 1/2 oz of 151 Rum
+ As expected, this is smooth and sweet.
+ And it will knock you right on your butt.
+ Fruity flavors blend well with the two rums.
+ ...but something is missing.
I propose another approach. Something to augment and deepen those fruity flavors. The effect is just as powerful, and way more yummy.
THE SKELETON GUARD
1 oz Black Rum
1 oz White Rum
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Splash of Simple Syrup
4 dashes of Angostura Bitters
2 oz Sweet and Sour Mix
1 oz Jaegermeister
1 oz Apple Mango juice
+ So smooth and sweet.
+ ...which is dangerous, because I want to guzzle it down.
+ This will mess you up for a long while.
+ Simple over grenadine works really well.
+ The bitters provide just enough difference to keep us from spilling over into too much sweet.
...This drink will mess you up. I mean it. One and done. Take a swig, drink it down, then snuggle up with your favorite pet and bad anime and enjoy for the next 3-5 hours. Woof.
Imbibe responsibly. And be careful about what necromancy brings you back from the dead.
The story of this drink isn't long.
My wife handed me two books with a beautiful grin on her face. Bartending books. FULL of alphabetized recipes collected from the far corners of the world. Strange brews, curious concoctions, and plenty of things to try out and mess with.
After a few quick flips through the tall pages, I had to pause at the D's. We've got our usuals: Dirty Martini, Desert Sunrise, Dark and Stormy....and then, Designer Jeans?
Yup. It's a fun little shot.
1/2 oz Dark Rum (I recommend Bacardi Black Rum)
1/2 oz Irish Cream
1/2 oz Raspberry Liqueur
*Pour into a shaker with ice and shake.
Strain into a shooter glass.
+ Sweet with a bite, as expected.
+ Shaking is key here, as the chill is needed. This warm...is not pleasant.
+ Shaking is also the best way to mix the Irish Cream with the rest, as a stir tends to separate.
+ Pleasant shot
+ Surprising and lovely
+ Meant to be shot, not sipped.
More to come. Happy New Year.
In studying up my basic bartending (and seeking flavors that elevate my growing whiskey cabinet), one finds themselves contemplating the tiny, lonely shelves in the dimly lit corners of the local liquor store. Beyond the racks of poorly timed Chardonay and useless Sherry, nestled past the dusty, unused shelf of margarita mixes and pre-made buttershots, rests a delightful corner of vibrant curiosities and surprising pairings.
It was here I stumbled upon the endless enjoyment of the Wild Moon's offerings, and there, tucked quietly on stack of cardboard boxes, was a Whiskey Sour mix. Intrigued, and short on budget, I snagged it for experimentation.
This remains a SOLID purchase, with many more to follow.
Now, the purists out there would say to make your own mix, and leave the sour to your own mixology. I am learning, and while I do pretty well, there is something joyous about opening the fridge, and pouring out an ounce or two of something that I know will fit the palette.
It's basically juice, and sometimes that's exactly what we need.
So What IS A Whiskey Sour?
Part of a family of citrus-based cocktails, the Whiskey Sour is traditionally achieved by mixing a few ounces of harsh Bourbon with Lemon Juice and Simple Syrup. Layers of orange and cherry are sometimes added. If you're using the mix, like this dumb DM, just some Bourbon and a shot of the mix, and we're set.
One problem, though.
I don't like Bourbon.
So, in true Moonriver style, let's go DEEPER.
Variations On The Sour
Just like my study of the Moscow Mule, replacing and restructuring a Whiskey Sour ain't no thing, and the list can get pretty involved. And, just as when you make enough adjustments and replacements to achieve a distinct palette, so do you gradually destroy the spirit of the drink until is wholly something else entirely. So, instead, for one's clear edification, I'll give you the three common, and pretty simple, variations.
Still Bourbon, still Syrup, but add an Egg White froth to mitigate the bite of the whiskey. Who knew!
MAPLE RYE SOUR
Like I said, I don't enjoy Bourbon for more than a taste, and though the elevations in Rye and its full spectrum are growing on me, I am very curious how the Irish Mist will behave in this climate.
I propose the following for a taste test:
1 oz Irish Mist Honey Whiskey
1 oz Scotch Whiskey
1/2 oz Honey Liqueur
2 oz Whiskey Sour mix (because I'm awesome, get over it)
I know this looks like A LOT of honey, but hear me out. It's the Syrup and the commonality of the maple that draw me toward that end of wheel. I know from experience that the Irish Mist isn't a strong flavor on its own, but it explodes when paired with a honey liqueur. The brightness of the Scotch should heighten the drink's finish while providing a minimal bite. I only hope that the mix doesn't drown them all out...
+ Sour syrup and honey is a curious thing to enjoy
+ Just like in previous tests, that honey liqueur is a stealthy lady, sneaking in at the end
+ The Scotch is sharper than I thought
+ Beautiful color
+ Warmth, subtle and smooth
Maybe not something I'll put on my menu, or something I reach for when other options are always available, but it is a fine illustration of a flavor set working together beautifully. The experience actually makes me wonder about the merits of a Sweet and Sour approach, or the heightened subtlety in only a splash of Simple and Lemon.
A set for another day. This weary tavern keep has pushups to do.
See you at the table.
On the edges of the Autumncrest, flowing down from Astrazalian is the once ruined bastion of Harrowhome. A piecemeal, patchwork fortress of scorched stone and new construction, this half-sunken memorial is a testament to an ages old war and a memory not forgotten.
The Battle Of Autumn
Verenestra, the mad Summer Lady, had once coveted the far realms of the Fey as an extension of her mother's dominion. This action was not sanctioned, and vibrant, faction-less Eladrin rose against such tyranny. The war was devastating.
The final blow wrought upon the Eladrin was in the form of a godly blight suffered upon the grand beacon city of Cendriane, darkening its grasslands to a pitch black and forcing its populace to evacuate. After this grand insult upon the summer, King Oberyn himself banished Verenestra to the Farplane, where she may wait out her days in exile. But her armies were proud, and continued their march downriver, seeking to secure the Mithrendain province for the court that abandoned them. They believed that if they could take Harrowhome, a place of neutrality and refuge, that their position would be immutable.
And her armies marched on the ruined bastion with speed and volition...only to be met on the lush fields at its gates by the regiments of the Wild Hunt. Thousands of primal warrior spirits under the orders of the Erlking himself. Bound by purpose, the disavowed summer forces fought anyway, and were slaughtered, their bodies cut down by the vicious precision of the Wild Hunt. Those upon the city walls watched Elven soldiers fall with a breath, like leaves falling from trees.
The walls of Harrowhome remember the battle that carved the Autumn Court into being, and beyond its walls it welcomed every creature upended and scarred by war. And continue to do so to this day.
Any wanderer that walks under its arches and through its gates, no matter their make or manner, will be treated to a warm bed, a hearty meal, and a safe rest. You see, even before the Autumn, Harrowhome was a place of spirits. Not haunted, mind you, but inhabited and cared for by creatures long dead. Spirits of cooks, caretakers, healers, and one particularly crotchety jarl care for its visitors as if they were their own citizens.
Not going to lie, it is a bit off-putting at first. Seeing the smiling, humming halfling maid that floats through the wall carrying a platter of fine kippers and tea as she drifts over to your bedside and kisses your forehead goodnight.
And yet, Harrowhome is a place of comfort. Weary travelers find assured rest within its walls without trickery (though the child ghosts can be a little mischievous); visiting guilds catch their breath and count their coin; and even an occasional warlord takes up residence once in a while.
But any who pass through know the laws. I - No violence will be willfully committed within the city's walls, not by its keepers nor its visitors. II - Under no circumstances will these halls or their denizens be exorcised, for this place is under the watch of the Erlking, and thou shall not rob him of his subjects, lest they wish to join the Wild Hunt themselves.
Though most of the citizens of Harrowhome hail from the ethereal wastes, a physical presence has found its way to the city. This tiny sect of protectors, survivalists, medics, and old adventurers have sworn an oath in service of the caretaker spirits of the ruin. Not only will they defend the neutral ground from invaders, but they will endeavor to follow the spiritual example of safety and protection for all those within its walls.
It is this sect that has learned from their spectral hosts the ancient discipline in constructing sacred grounds of warding; small sanctuaries of sculpted stone and balanced energy that carry with them the same unspoken accord of the city itself - a bond stronger than steel and respected by gods.
Entities that cultivate this brand of architecture and care earn the right and blessing from their spectral mentors to venture into the wilds of the Fey, erecting safe havens at key junctures throughout the realm. These "Wayfarers" are encouraged to scout and roam until they discover a "place of need." In this place, they use their best judgement to erect a Waystation and pour their arcane will into its stone and structure. Sanctified and solidified by ancient laws, a Waystation kept will ward any malevolence from entering, and all creatures making use of the space must adhere to the rules, clearly posted in immutable script in all languages. Committing intentional acts of violence or malevolence while on this sacred ground will spell more than doom for all participating, as they have broken a sacred vow respected by the greatest of the Archfey. Though she could rage at its borders, not even the Queen of Air and Darkness could enact violence upon such a space, lest she suffer the wrath of the Seelie, Unseelie, and Hunter Courts combined. Passing over the threshold of a Waystation makes a promise to all those that seek you harm or hell, and, in the Feywild, promises are kept.
The Totem Network
Passage through the Wildes can be treacherous and unpredictable for the uninitiated. Rampant quicklings, enchanted campfires, giant mimics, and roaming primal spirits are commonplace under this aurora sky.
Nicholas Falanel, an old tortle of kind face and dreadful past, used his blessings in the arcane and survival to construct minute, portable waystations. He would call these more accurately - totems. Tiny pockets of neutral energy, these carved wood and stone spires would rest on either side of a beaten path no more than ten feet wide, planted at 10 foot intervals. The resulting network of short-form, concentrated abjuration could hold at bay any number of malevolent Fey or Undead creatures.
But the totems are difficult to construct. Though Nick has attempted to pass on his techniques, Wayfarers are a rare branch of an extremely rare sect, so the old tortle appears to be on his own for this endeavor. That doesn't stop "Old Nick", though, and many a traveler has seen him tending to one of his seven Waystations across the Wildes - collecting more materials on his quest to connect the Feywild for any who may wander its beautiful and dangerous landscape.
Stop by for a tune or three, and a bowl of gumbo for thee. And remember the skies before the Harrowed be true; we will always open our doors to you.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, amateur bartender, and aspiring fiction author.
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