When insomnia drags me rudely up out of sleep, I flip on the radio to the BBC. The BBC relaxes me, more or less, depending on how horrific the news is. I listen to the reassuring English voices, and for the rest of the night, I'm drifting in and out. The effect is that I wake up with a head full of potentially fantastical news stories.
So it was that around 4 a.m. this morning, I thought I heard a story about five cases of Scotch cut free (after 100 years) from a hunk of ice at Ernest Schackleton’s long-abandoned Antarctic shack. So far so good, but it sounded suspiciously like the BBC story I thought I’d heard a while back, in which 700 cases of Chateau Petrus were uncovered from a shipwreck in the deep end of my backyard swimming pool. Next morning, when I mentioned the Petrus story over morning coffee, SLS was rightly dubious, gently pointing out that we live in an apartment with no yard.
This story about the explorer’s abandoned Scotch, though, it had the ring of truth. Mostly because it’s a 100-percent actually-happened true story! The whisky bottles were found frozen in ice under floorboards in Schackleton’s hut. They also found a couple crates of brandy.
The Shackleton expedition of 1907-1909 apparently came to an abrupt end when non-booze-related supplies started running dangerously low. Before the winter ice could lock them in, they jumped in a boat and hauled themselves away, with Shackleton no doubt asking his first mate as they drifted out to sea, “So you got all the booze then, right?”
“Oh yes sir. All the Scotch, all the brandy. Got it!”
“Even the stuff under the floorboards?”
“Under the where?”
In other whiskey news -- that's whiskey-with-an-"e"-related news -- I had a delicious rye whiskey cocktail last night, which I will try to recreate as soon as I can track down a couple of the ingredients. SLS and I were having dinner at a place called Spur in Seattle. We met up after work and unwound our workdays over a cocktail, as an old black-and-white western movie played (quietly, with the sound down) against the white wall.
My rye cocktail was called The Foreigner, and it was unusual in that the two kinds of bitters in it (blood orange and peach) gave the drink deep, delicious fruit flavors without making it taste sickly, sweetly fruity. It was all essence of fruit, I guess, not sticky sweet mess of fruit. It was dry and boozy, not juicy sweet. Delicious.
I haven’t experimented with the measurements yet, but here’s my guesstimate at the recipe, with many thanks to Anne Magoon (Spur’s manager and wine buyer) for such wonderful service, delicious food, and friendly conversation.
2 ounces rye
.75 ounce amaro
.75 ounce strega (both Strega and amaro are Italian herbal liqueurs)
Several dashes of peach bitters
Several dashes of blood orange bitters
A nice wide slice of lemon peel to twist into the glass
Serve up, shaken or stirred.