I wanted to share a few more late summer beverages with you, but here we are in the middle of autumn. Summer drinks will have to wait until next year. Autumn in Oregon is definitely autumn, with a crispness in the air and golden leaves brightening the sky above. It is different than the spectacular red, orange, and yellow hillsides of my youth. Autumn is a bit like a second spring here; after the hot, dry summer the rain returns and so does the green. Violets and crocuses pop through the moss and green grass. But no matter where I am I welcome this change of season.
This seasonal transition coincided with some much needed downtime with my family. In August my parents took a long drive across the country (and parts of Canada too). They started their journey in upstate New York and drove up to Thunder Bay, down through Minnesota, and headed through Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Coeur d'Alene, and arrived here in mid September for a month’s stay. Time passed too quickly as we relaxed by the Sandy River, shared meals, took long walks, and made some small home improvements.
We did fit in a couple of trips to the coast. It was rejuvenating to spend some time away from the city. I love the beach, but not for soaking up the sun, but to breathe in the foggy, cold air. My favorite stretches of the Oregon coast are where the dark forest meets the blue ocean. We love to walk along the beach at low tide to find what gifts the sea has left behind. We found small tide pools with orange and purple starfish, and turquoise sea anemones. On one of trips we spent a few days at a rented beach cabin in Cape Meares. The cabin is in the forest near an isolated beach. On the other side of the beach is a lake. There is a national wildlife refuge nearby and although it was very foggy, we saw a few pods of pelicans flying through the fog. We found plenty of scatalogical evidence of wandering gangs of elk, but we didn’t see any.
We spent most of our time walking along the foggy beach and relaxing by the fireplace. The fireplace may have been electric, but it was just what we needed.
Everywhere we looked there were signs of autumn. The golden big leaf maple leaves, the moss, and the rain pattering on the skylights.
I did a hasty job packing our bags and I left most of the food that I shopped for the day before, but the cabin had everything we needed and we made meals out of what we had. We enjoyed platters of stinky cheese, tart apples, the tiniest, brightest grapes, and blue corn chips. Mr. Graham and I enjoyed fresh cider and Calvados by the fireplace.
I did pack a few cocktail essentials. It didn’t make sense to pack a lot of bottles, so I opted to fill our travel flasks. These flasks are perfect for premixed cocktails that are only made with booze such as Manhattans or Negronis. After a long day, all that is required is ice and a glass (or not). I knew I also wanted something warming like a Manhattan, but with Calvados. I had recently tried several variations of the Yellow Daze from Damn the Weather in Seattle and I thought that a blend of Calvados, sweet vermouth, and Genepy would be nice to enjoy by the fire after spending the day on a foggy beach.
I have since made this drink quite a few times. The flavors warm you in a herbal blanket after a long dark commute home in the cold rain. The bitters awaken the palate and make the perfect aperitif. May it warm you in the months ahead.
Autumn in Cape Meares
This drink will transport you to a forest cabin by the coast. The only sounds are of the waves, a distant foghorn, and the rain on the window. Your sea soaked sweater and jeans are drying by the fire. You are tucked under a wool blanket soaking up the salty air with your sweetheart or a good book.
Makes two cocktails:
Equipment: 2 rocks glasses, mixing glass or mason jar, stirring spoon, strainer
3 ounces Calvados, apple brandy, applejack, or whiskey
2 ounces sweet vermouth - use one that is not too bitter such as Dolin Rouge or Martini & Rossi, the genepy will provide the welcome bitter notes
1 ounce Genepy des Alpes
Garnish: brandied cherry or apple slice, grated nutmeg
Place a large ice cube in each rocks glass. Stir the Calvados, vermouth, and genepy in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into prepared rocks glasses. Garnish with brandied cherries or apple slices. It is nice with a little grated nutmeg on top too.