Posts tagged #cocktail

Liquor: The Classic Gin Martini

My tastes tend to skew towards savory rather than sweet (how many dessert recipes have you seen here?) but lately that's been refined very specifically to acidic tastes: pickles, mustard, vinegars, and olives. Olives, olives, OLIVES!

Right now I think I have about six different jars sitting in my fridge because I'm obsessed with trying everything new and delicious and wonderful that I can get my hands on. The only ones I haven't liked so far are the bleu cheese stuffed ones, which was a terrible disappointment to my cheese loving soul. However, those ones sit in a juice that is thick and syrupy, almost slimy, and I don't know if it's because of the cheese or what, but it's gross, and you should keep it the hell away from me and my martini.

Martini! Yes, truly my FAVOURITE way to enjoy some olives. What's that? You already know how to make a classic martini? 

 Yes, I did just make that specifically for this purpose. I am Batman.

Usually you know I let you guys do whateverthehell you want, but on this I say no. Vodka martinis are great, and popular, and this and that and the other thing, but a traditional martini is made with gin and I will not hear another damn thing about it.

NOW, there is considerable debate as to whether a martini should be shaken or stirred. A traditional gin martini should be stirred, not shaken, as according to my research shaking can "bruise the gin".

I don't know about this. My gin has never complained.  But after all my caterwauling about traditional and "classic" this and that, I have to say I like my martinis absolutely ice cold and that just can't be accomplished by stirring.

ALSO it's how James Bond orders his martinis and if you can't take advice from James Bond then I guess we're all screwed. I read somewhere once a theory that James Bond was so sophisticated that he would have known that stirring is the more common way to serve a gin martini, but that in his wisdom of being a spy and in charge of poisons/guns/motor vehicles, he always limited himself to one martini, and had it shaken so that more of the ice would melt, thus diluting the drink a bit more. This logic makes complete sense to me and lines up pretty well with what we see in the movies. He also drank vodka martinis, which are ALWAYS served shaken, not stirred, so maybe the dude just got confused. Whatever.

Besides, how else do you expect him to close the deal with [insert Bond girl here] if he has more than one drink? 

It's unfortunate that I don't own proper martini glasses, as the stem is necessary to keep the drink cold as we discussed in Boozing on a Budget. It's also regrettable that I wound up with small ice slivers in this martini. What can I say, my strainer was in the dishwasher!

makes 1, preferably for James Bond


  • 2.5 ounces gin (We are led to believe in 1953s Casino Royale that Bond drinks Gordon's gin. I used my current experimental favourite, Plymouth, because I am not fancy enough to have two bottles of gin in my house at once.)
  • 0.5 ounces dry white vermouth (Martini & Rossi is the most common brand)
  • 1 or 3 olives, to garnish

The olives are obviously what started this whole post, but a classic martini can also be served with a twist of lemon peel instead. Why either one or three? Because two looks just weirdly symmetrical, and an even number of olives is supposed to be bad luck.


1. Combine the gin and vermouth in a cocktail shaker over lots of ice and shake for 30 seconds.

2. Strain (double strain with a second finer strainer to catch any ice shards that might be left) into a martini glass and serve with three olives.

If you want to try your hand at making a a proper classic gin martini, instead of shaking in the shaker simply stir gently until combined and proceed to step 2. By all means have at it, but if James Bond can break tradition and enjoy an ice cold martini then so can I.

If I am feeling extra debaucherous (possibly not a word) I like to make it a dirty martini by adding half an ounce of olive juice, right from the jar to the gin and vermouth before you shake. Enjoy, you dirty little birds!

Posted on April 1, 2014 .

Liquor: Grapefruit Rosemary Diamond Fizz

IIIIIIIIII have just discovered my new favourite morning drink! This is the MOST fun, because I think mimosas and Bloody Marys, while awesome, are totally played out. I get bored easily. When you're hosting a nice fancy brunch, you want to be able to offer something unique!

Alternatively this drink is classy and snazzy enough for an elegant evening dinner, perhaps with fish or a salad since it involves a light, dry prosecco. That's why it's called a diamond fizz instead of a regular gin fizz--prosecco/champagne trumps regular club soda or tonic water here. Cuz we fancy. Fancy doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, though--I picked up a bottle of Penny Stamp Prosecco at my local World Market for $7. When it costs less than a bottle of wine, you don't have to wait for a special occasion to break out the bubbles. A Thursday will do. Thursdays are great. Thursdays are Friday Eve, the pre-weekend. DO IT!

Oh! And I have to share this COOLEST OF COOL gadget I also found at World Market, the Rabbit Champagne Sealer. This little doo-dad expands to fit champagne and wine bottles of pretty much any size so that it doesn't go flat in the fridge until your next opportunity to drink. And it really works! How cool is that!

I am such a simple child.

I've gotten so used to using garnishes on drinks as an accompaniment, but champagne based drinks really don't require it and the shape of the glass doesn't reeeeeally lend itself to such. So it doesn't LOOK terribly fancy, and my photography sucks, but trust me--it's light, bubbly, delicious, and not too sweet.

What You Need
makes 1 bubbly cocktail

1 tablespoon of our previously made rosemary simple syrup
2 ounces fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (I had some tucked away from my most recent batch of Grapefruit Crushes)
1 ounce gin
Champagne or Prosecco, to top off

What You Do
1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake the rosemary simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and gin together for 30 seconds until the mixer is frosty. Pour into a champagne flute and top off with prosecco or champagne.

Liquor: Cucumber Mint Gin

Back again with the booze! Yeeeaaahhhhh....I've been drinking my dinner most nights this week but also, ALSO! I'm moving back to Florida in three weeks and I need to eat my way out of the leftovers in the freezer, because evidently there is always some part of my mind that assumes that the zombie apocalypse is right around the corner, and god forbid I don't have enough gumbo and Italian Lemon Chicken and Orzo Soup on hand to get through it all.

In the meantime, I'm using GIN to get through all of THIS!

This past week my dearest Lilypad regaled me with a description of a drink she enjoyed in DC, something with cucumber and mint and gin. Since I have recently reignited my love affair with gin, I couldn't wait to reproduce it. I suppose this would be more apropos for all my Florida friends who are basking in the warmth of the sun and sand (SOON! Soon I will be with you, my people!) because it's light and utterly refreshing and delicious. Here, here it's just snow. Snow, snow, snow, and more forking snow, endless white bullshit. I'm back to being angry about winter.

In the meantime, mix this up and pretend you're relaxing on a warm porch swing somewhere in the South. That's what I'm doing. Cheers!

In correlation with yesterday's highly educational blog post on how to mix drinks when you are broke, this is a drink served without ice, and therefore SHOULD be in a stemmed glass. But, you can totally serve this with ice, if you want to. If it's actually warm enough to warrant a need for ice, where you are. (PS, GFY.)

Cucumber Mint Martini
serves 1

 What You Need
~3 inches cucumber, peeled and diced
2 fresh mint leaves
1/4 of a lime
2 ounces gin (I'm currently experimenting with Plymouth)
1 dash bitters (optional)
tonic water, to top off

What You Do
1. Throw your diced cucumber in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Put the mint leaves in your hand, and clap. (This releases some of the fragrance and essential oils and also makes you look cool.) Add them to the shaker along with the juice of 1/4 of a lime, and the bitters. Muddle really really really well with a muddler or a wooden spoon. Add the gin and tons of ice and shake hard for 30 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and top off with tonic water (you'll want a bit of that sweetness to round it out.) Serve with a fresh cucumber garnish.
Posted on March 26, 2014 .

Liquor: Rosemary Gin Rickey

Two cocktails in a row, woot woot! Yeeeaaaaaah buddy, I've been breaking out of my wine-only rut and am back to experimenting with the cocktail shaker. I think I got stuck in between ginger flavours and tequila for awhile, so I'm excited to have something new to present to you: a Rosemary Gin Rickey, from photographer Elizabeth Morrow. You can find the original recipe here.

Rosemary is a tricky ingredient, for me. It can be overwhelming at times, a strange combination of woody and floral fragrance and taste. I was intrigued to give this a try, and let me tell you, I am a full-on fan. The rosemary simple syrup is just subtle enough to that you only get a TASTE of rosemary, and the garnish of fresh rosemary provides the perfect whiff as you sip. As I noted before with the Pimm's Cup, in many cases, a cocktail garnish is NOT optional!!! A garnish serves the very important purpose of stimulating your sense of smell, which is of course closely tied to your sense of taste and part of the whole experience of a cocktail. A garnish is a complement to the drink. USE IT. 

Serve like so for effect, but of course, drop that baby tree into your drink before taking your first sip. I can't believe I actually have to tell people that, but there you go.

First, you must make the Rosemary Simple Syrup.

What You Need
makes 1 cup of simple syrup; scale as necessary

1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup filtered water
4 sprigs fresh rosemary

What You Do
1. Making any simple syrup has the same (simple, hah) process: combine 1 part filtered water to 1 part sugar (usually white granulated) plus your flavouirng agent. You may recall we've used one before with before with the smashing Lemon Ginger Martini, with the original recipe being explained in the Carlos O'Brien. So all you do here is combine the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to make sure the sugar doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Let it boil for 1 minute such that the sugar is completely dissolved, then cover and remove from the heat. Let steep for 30 minutes, drain out the rosemary sprigs, and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

I absolutely adored the light, baby-spring-green colour the simple syrup wound up having (not evident in the photo above, unfortunately). You also eat with your eyes, after all! Onwards we go.

Rosemary Gin Rickey
makes 1 drink

What You Need
1 ounce rosemary simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1.5 ounces gin
club soda (I always prefer tonic water) to top off
spring of rosemary + white granulated sugar for garnish

What You Do
1. In a cocktail shaker over lots of ice, combine the first three ingredients. Shake for 30 seconds until the shaker is frosty. Pour into a highball glass over ice and top off with bubbles to your desired strength. Moisten a sprig of rosemary with water and roll around in some white sugar to give it that pretty, frosted look.

Oh, and hint hint--this would be a fantastically complementary pre-dinner cocktail for that Short Rib Ragu.
Posted on March 21, 2014 .

Liquor: Lemon Ginger Martini

So I have this really pathetic little game going on with myself right now, where I give myself a blue star (literally just a star scribbled in blue ink) on my wall calendar for every day I don't drink this month. There's no incentive for doing this; I've not promised myself anything, am not rewarding myself in any way, and have not been commanded to do so by any sort of rehabilitation programme. I have no idea why I play these games with myself.

Today is February 19, and I have 7 blue stars.

Don't you judge me. It's largely because of this drink! The Lemon Ginger Martini.

Easy-peasey lemon-squeezy.

This drink recipe comes entirely from my friend Lilypad, who is just so tres chic it's no surprise at all that she would come up with such a sophisticated drink. I love it because it's not too sweet, and so refreshing I know this is going to become my signature summer drink. With over a foot of snow piled up outside, clearly I am already pretending it is summer! I think it's about time I switch back to liquor from wine and beer, too, in trying to make smarter caloric decisions--so you can expect cocktail recipes to pop up more often, especially "skinny" ones. Cos summer IS coming. Thank god.

Lemon Ginger Martini
makes 1 martini

What You Need
2 ounces gin (BECAUSE YES, ACTUAL TRUE MARTINIS ARE MADE WITH GIN, NOT WITH VODKA) As you can see I used Tanqueray, but usually Bombay Sapphire is my go-to. Lilypad, because she maintains only the most exquisite taste, likes Junipero, which I must say I quite like.
1 ounce freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (I forbid you to bastardise this simple deliciousness with the bottled stuff!)
0.5 ounce (or 1 ounce if you like things sweeter) ginger simple syrup, recipe here

What You Do
1. Did I or did I not say easy-peasey lemon-squeezy? Shake all over ice in a cocktail shaker for 30 seconds and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon slice.
Posted on February 19, 2014 .

Liquor: The Carlos O'Brien

Last weekend or thereabouts, right when I started the Facebook page for this little blog, my good friend Sara Say-So asked me for a cocktail recommendation for a small dinner party she was throwing with her new husband Evan. (Can I just say, it is still so freaky to me that my friends from high school are now all doing the rounds of getting married and having babies, made ludicrous by the fact that I was actually divorced at 21, made even MORE ironic by the fact that Say-So's husband is my ex-husband's cousin...and I used to date Say-So's older brother back in high school...and Say-So and Evan got married in Barcelona, where my ex-husband and I went on holiday before getting married. IT'S A TEENY TINY WORLD Y'ALL.)

Of course in order to make any sort of recommendation on what to drink, I needed to know what they were eating, too. When she said fish, only two real things popped into mind--a Moscato for Thai or Asian inspired fish, or tequila for any sort of Caribbean/Latin American preparation. All of this was highly ironic given that I was in an aquarium at the time, but I digress.

Tequila it is! And what a fine choice indeed, given that I've been obsessed with Jose Cuervo Silver ever since I had a well-intentioned Nacho Night with some friends that ended with the usual debauchery--and woke up clear as a bell and awesome the next morning. I can't explain this devil magic, but I'm sticking with it! Tequila and lime is the quintessential combination, of course, but keeping in mind my current my love affair with the earthy spiciness of ginger, here's what I came up with:

The Carlos O'Brien: named by and created for the inspirational couple. I'm expecting an invite to the next dinner party you guys! :)

The Carlos O'Brien
makes 1 drink

What You Need
3 ounces white tequila, Jose Cuervo Silver preferably
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2.5 ounces ginger simple syrup (Requiring 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup water and 1 large piece of ginger, about 10 inches long; recipe follows.)
Club soda, to top off

What You Do
1. First things first, we gotta make the ginger simple syrup. Peel your piece of ginger and slice it up into a bunch of thin little rounds; the more surface area available the more ginger infusion we can eke out. In a small pot, combine the water, sugar and ginger pieces and bring to a low boil. Reduce, then simmer gently uncovered for 20-30 minutes until the syrup has thickened and turned a beautiful amber colour. Remove from heat and cool, straining out the ginger. It'll keep in the fridge for about a month.
Thin it out with a bit of water if you find it thickening too much in the fridge.

2. OK, drink mixing time! It's all pretty easy from here; just squeeze the limes through a strainer, and in a cocktail shaker filled with ice combine the lime juice, tequila, and ginger simple syrup. Shake for about 30 seconds and strain into a glass over ice. Top with club soda to taste, and serve with a lime wedge garnish. Ta dah!

Posted on February 7, 2014 .

Liquor: Halloween Candy Corn Martini

I started this little project about a week ago, but because I can't count (apparently), by posting today I'm not giving YOU enough time to try this recipe yourself. Seriously, I fail so hard. The only reason why this takes 5-7 days is because you're doing your own infusion of candy corn vodka--MAYBE you could find a version in a liquor store? I mean, it's seasonal and god knows they flavour vodka with EVERYTHING these days (maple syrup, anyone? how 'bout butter? Swedish fish?). It was super easy to make, though, so if you have any extra candy corn left over from Halloween this week, do have at it! (The candy corn alone was difficult to find; for some reason I had to go to three different stores to find it and even then I almost had to fight this woman off for the last bag. Lady, I WILL have my candy corn vodka--this is not amateur hour!)

If you don't like vodka, you probably shouldn't make this. And we also probably shouldn't be friends. Now, if you don't like candy corn, well...I was worried that I would wind up with a sludgy sickly sweet mess, but I was wrong! The vodka absorbs the buttery taste of candy corn plus the iridescent orange colour, but leaves a lot of the tooth-aching sweetness behind. It really was very mild.

To make the candy corn infused vodka you'll need 2 parts vodka (I used Absolut) to 1 part candy corn; so, 2 cups of vodka and 1 cup of candy corn. I wasn't sure I would like it, though, and I'm the only vodka drinker in the house, so I halved it to 1 cup of vodka and 1/2 cup of candy corn. Throw into a clean Mason jar and stow away in a cool dark place for 5 days.

Bonus: doubles as a Halloween decoration. Sort of. If you're reaching.

When your five days of infusion are up, it's time to strain the vodka. Look! All the candy corn disappeared! 
Dudes, it was SO GROSS looking the first day--the candy corn had dissolved into these ghostly, floating tendrils of white that looked like snot floating in the vodka. 

Never fear. Shake up the jar, and then strain it through cheesecloth (fold over a few times to make it a tighter strain) into another glass or bowl. I found the easiest way to do this was to rubber band the cheesecloth around the mouth of a drinking glass and pour the vodka slowly through that. The cheesecloth caught everything and left only clear orange vodka behind. Presto!
Cheers to Mondays, cheers to candy corn, cheers to being holiday-specific drunk!

Candy Corn Martinis
makes 1 decently sized martini

What You Need
1 1/2 ounces candy corn vodka
3/4 ounce vanilla vodka (I used Absolut Vanilla)
1/2 ounce white vermouth
3 dashes Angosturra bitters

What You Do
Shake over ice in a cocktail shaker and serve.

Look, I failed on multiple levels with this little project, because I had intended to line the rim of the glass with Pop Rocks all cute-like. But do you think the four different stores I went to had Pop Rocks? NO! Do you think the fifth store had RED STRAWBERRY Pop Rocks? Of course. Because, that's what Mondays are just like.

I finally got home and thought OK, I'll make a compromise and edge it in green decorating sugar that I have on hand. So I open the drawer and--hahahahahahaha. I only have red sugar left. At that point I decided I just wanted to get the damn vodka inside me as soon as possible, so I chopped a candy corn in half and quit at life for the night.

Liquor: Pumpkin Juice!

It's Halloween, so of course everything is pumpkin EVERYTHING right now! However, the inspiration for this particular recipe actually comes from my nearest and dearest favourite fantasy series...Harry Potter. These are the books that opened the world of fantasy, magic and make-believe to me, that provided me--as a geeky, gangly, unpopular and painfully awkward 11-year-old--another world to disappear into when mine was so unbearable.

I am only slightly less awkward and gangly as a 23-year-old and about eleventy-billion times more geeky (hello Hunger Games, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Batman...) and I still love Harry Potter as much as I did at the first turn of the first page. And since it's Halloween, the movies have been playing on ABC Family every weekend and I've been loving every minute. :)

Pumpkin juice is a beverage often enjoyed by Harry, Ron, and Hermione and in my current inundation with pumpkins, I decided to give it a whirl. I know it *sounds* weird, but I assure you it is delicious, refreshing, interesting, and definitely worth a shot! Now of course...the kiddos enjoy this straight up, but I discovered that it's even MORE delightful with a splash of Maker's Mark over ice. My girl friend Tiny Bird preferred it with some Gosling's dark spiced rum, and Lilypad liked it with brandy. (Drinking it in her Hermione Granger Halloween costume, natch.)

Pumpkin Juice
makes about 5 cups

What You Need
1 small pumpkin, known as a pie pumpkin in most stores OR 1 cup tinned pumpkin puree (100% pure puree, not pumpkin pie filling!)
2 cups apple juice (I used the freshly pressed Simply Apple brand, which is stored next to the refrigerated lemonades in your supermarket)
1 cup white grape juice
1 cup pineapple juice
Dash of ground ginger
Dash of cinnamon

Now, here's the thing. I'm currently on a kick about doing everything from scratch, so I made my own pumpkin puree. It was a fair amount of work, and it turned out smoother and a bit thinner in consistency and lighter in color than the kind you get from the tin. It takes time and a bit of patience, but no special skills. Feel free to make your life easier and just use one cup of the tinned stuff, skip to step 3, and we're good to go.

What You Do
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice the pumpkin in half from pole to pole and scrape out the seeds and stringy bits. I found this to be easier after pricking it with a fork in several places and microwaving for 1 minute. Less likely have a knife slip and stab yourself this way. Unless there's something we need to talk about. Lay the halves facedown on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until very soft. (It made the whole house smell sweet and wonderful as the natural sugars in the flesh were rendered out!)

2. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, slip the skins off (they turned very leathery in the oven, very interesting) and discard. Using a fine mesh sieve and a rubber spatula, working in batches, force the pumpkin flesh through the sieve into a bowl. This was the most time consuming part, for me, because you really have to mash it through thoroughly, scraping as you go. Toss the pulpy mess left in the sieve. Stir your beautiful puree together (it has a natural tendency to separate from its juices) and measure out 1 cup.

3. In a pitcher, stir together all of the juices and the pumpkin, along with the spices, until the pumpkin is completely dissolved. Chill until very cold, and serve over ice after stirring once again. Spike as needed. :)

Thanks for everything, JK.