Posts tagged #cocktails

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 .

Lagniappe: Boozing On A Budget, Part 1

The actual FULL title of today's post is "Boozing on a Budget: Everything You Need to Have a Perfectly Well-Stocked Cocktail Bar to Get You Through The Week and Life in General" but that seemed a bit excessive.

Let's talk about cocktails! We talk about them all the time here, don't we? I like to drink. I come from a family of Europeans raised in Latin America, and we have a GRAND old time with a great whiskey or aged rum. It's in my blood. No seriously, I'm pretty sure that at any given time there is a measurable amount of alcohol in my blood somehow, someway.

To my future employers: HAHAHA! I was just kidding about that last line, of course. Move along.

Now I do love a great wine, with my personal favourites being Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Wine is my go-to when I am legitimately stressed out and just want to unwind after a long day.

But cocktails, with endless varieties of liquor and their myriad of accompanying bitters, mixers, garnishes, and infusions are an absolute PLAYGROUND for me. In fact, I've got some blackberry vodka infusing on my countertop as we speak that I hope to work into a tangerine spritzer cocktail.

The tragic problem with all of this is I have no money. Boo, hiss! LIQUOR COMPANIES, PLEASE SEND ME FREE ALCOHOL! I will selflessly undergo the arduous task of dreaming up a delicious cocktail and then write about it in this most winning fashion. #contentisking

Until that happens (or I marry for money, whichever comes first) here's how I manage to mix things up on a budget:


Whelp, I guess I fail at my own list because I don't even really have one of these. My roommate has a cheap stainless steel one that I suspect is some sort of "drinking governor" type device, because it will only let me make one drink before the metal contracts so much I can't pry the lid off to make a second one. I DO NOT APPRECIATE BEING JUDGED ON MY DRINKING HABITS BY AN INANIMATE OBJECT.

So I just use one of these water bottles! It's metal and it has a small opening that makes straining a breeze. Make do, bitches.

 I should probably try to upgrade soon...THIS ISN'T EVEN MINE. Why haven't my roommates kicked me out yet?

A jigger is a metal double-ended shot glass that looks a bit like a wonky hourglass. It usually measures 2 ounces on one end and 1 ounce on the other. You can just use a regular shot glass, of course, but make sure you know exactly how much it measures. There's no real standard, so you could be pouring anywhere from 0.75 ounce to 2 ounces without realising it. For years I wondered why all my friends complained that my drinks were too strong--as it turns out, before I got a jigger I was using a Marine Corps stamped shot glass that was a deceptive 2 ounces instead of 1. Whoops.

(Marine Corps...should've known.) 

A muddler is a stainless steel or wooden rod with a textured plastic end used to mash/crush ingredients at the bottom of a glass to release oils, juices, and aromas. You might do this in an Old Fashioned. I don't have a muddler. I use a wooden spoon. *shrug*

Basically a regular vegetable peeler, but with a handle shaped like a Y. This is used to take peels of citrus fruit, usually orange or lemon, as a garnish. You can use a paring knife instead, but I find a y-peeler to be much more controlled and precise (not to mention safer).

This is an obvious one, but if you're really on a budget you probably only have two basic types of glasses: drinking glasses and wine glasses. If you're trendy, possibly Mason jars as well. I'm lucky to live with someone who owns a set of rocks glasses for my whiskey on the rocks, Old Fashioneds, and most of the cocktails you see on this blog. We recently acquired some stemless wine glasses that I've been using as a slightly more elegant option but I'm leaving both behind when I move next month.

It actually PAINS me a great deal that I don't have the correct set of glasses for all the drinks I want to make, because a truly classy, well-stocked cocktail bar would have the following:

  • Champagne flutes: for any cocktail that involves champagne or prosecco. The tall, slim shape allows the bubbles to flow in long thin streams and keeps them concentrated for longer, avoiding disappointingly flat drinks. 
  • Coupes: This is probably what you envision when you think of Gatsby! Coupes are said to be modeled on the shape of Marie Antoinette's breasts and are used to make a champagne tower at wedding receptions. (Has anyone ACTUALLY ever seen that though?) Coupes fell out of favour fairly quickly because the wide surface area makes the champers lose its carbonation more quickly.
  • Martini glasses: Technically these are called "cocktail glasses" but have become known as martini glasses because of their most popular usage. These glasses are used to serve any cocktail that is meant to be enjoyed cold but not actually over ice, as the long stem keeps the heat of your hand away from the drink. I always feel just a little bit finicky when I drink that way (not to mention it's a test of grip strength and balance) but hell, it's better than a warm martini. Gross.
  • Rocks glasses: I call them "rocks glasses" because that's what I grew up hearing, but they're also called lowballs or Old Fashioned glasses after their most famous (and delicious!) contents. It's a short tumbler with a thick base often used to serve drinks "on the rocks" or any that involve muddling. A solid, crystal clear rocks glass cradling an ice sphere with a bit of Maker's Mark floating around it is a damn beautiful sight!
  • Collins glass: A tall slim glass, the Collins glass is used for "sipping" drinks that are served with ice, like Long Island Iced Teas or anything else you'd imagine someone in the South drinking on the porch on a balmy summer evening.

There are also several other odds and ends for a nicely stocked bar like a strainer, a citrus squeezer, matches or a lighter to ignite citrus peels and their essential oils, a set of tongs to match an ice bucket, etc.  Ain't nobody got time (or space) for that, though.

In the absence of a rich Saudi husband, I plan to hit up some thrift stores (or my father's house--heads up Dad!) to find unique "solos" of all of those to build up my hodge-podge collection, but lemme tell you--a Carlos O'Brien tastes just as delicious in a rocks glass as it does out of a wine glass or a Mason jar or a coffee mug. I'm just saying. It's nice to be able to enjoy a cocktail in the most perfect, refined way possible, but don't let yourself get so hung up on the details that you no longer enjoy it. :)

Posted on March 26, 2014 .

Liquor: The Dirty Drunk Girl Scout

I'm not exactly sure what to call this drink. Most of you will recognise it as the Dirty Girl Scout, but that involves Creme de Menthe and Bailey's Irish Cream, neither of which I happened to have on Sunday. What's a girl to do when she's determined to drink her dessert? Improvise! (Drunkenness is the mother of invention, right? That's how the saying goes?) That's why THIS little recipe calls for similar but different ingredients and I get to switch up the title. Figures that it becomes even more inappropriate that way, but whatever.

Beware: this drink is SWEET, much sweeter than I will ever be. These days I just want my Maker's Mark on the rocks, but when you're craving dessert and are fresh out of Thin Mints or anything else that's minty and chocolately and indulgent and delicious...well, this kind of thing happens. Join me, ladies. Your PMS will thank me later.

It's almost like a grown up milkshake? That's awesome. If you want to be fancy you can garnish with a sprig of mint, which I also, sadly, did not have on hand. Foodie problems yo.

What You Need
makes 1 cocktail

2 ounces vodka
1.5 ounces white chocolate liqueur  (I used Godiva)
1 ounce peppermint schnapps (I used what I had leftover from Christmas, but I was told by my buddy Monkey Boy to definitely try it with Rumple Minze next time for an extra kick. Meow.)
1 ounce Kahlua

What You Do

1. Easy, peasy, pudding & pie. Shake all in a cocktail shaker over ice for 30 seconds and serve, again over ice. Garnish with fresh mint if you wish, or a cookie on the side if you are REALLY suffering.

You may notice that's not your average ice cube floating there. In fact, a few weeks ago the folks over at Arctic Chill asked me if they could send me some free stuff to test , and of course the only sane answer to that question is "HELL YES!" They sent me a four-pack of these badass Ice Ball Makers and I've been messing around with them ever since. They're round, BPA-free (or so they say; I couldn't find mention of this anywhere on the box...something to think about, Arctic Chill!) silicon moulds that look like this:

All you do is connect the two pieces together and fill with water. Water expands as it freezes, of course, so the two pieces separate a bit but nothing crazy, and out easily pops an ice ball like this:

They melt so much slower than regular ice cubes, making them perfect for drinks on the rocks (my roommate Bear raves over these for his whiskey on the rocks) or drinks you want to keep cold without diluting terribly, just like the Dirty Girl Scout. No one likes watery cream drinks. At $20 for a 4-pack from Amazon I think they're definitely a worthy investment for your liquor cabinet. I'm going to be experimenting with them in the spring, filling them with water that's been boiled and cooled to yield a clear ice ball instead of a murky one, and possibly studding them with frozen fruit or edible flowers. You know, girly shit.


Liquor: Intense Dark & Stormy

This isn't a real post and it's certainly not my recipe, but it is a damn good drink I have to share. Well, see the thing is it's not really SHARING unless you live in New York and have access to the surprisingly wonderful perfection that is Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur. So basically it's just bragging. Even if you're my friend, I love this stuff so much that it's unlikely I'll share it with you. You'd have to be a reeeeeeeally really good friend. Like maybe if you gave me a kidney or something.


But I don't need a kidney right now (maybe a liver in a couple of years) so I guess you're just SOL!

Don't worry, though--I've already e-mailed the owner, Josh Morton, and begged and pleaded to find a way to get it somewhere in DC. This is a snobby city! There are plenty of snootin' fallutin' shops and bars/cocktail lounges that would stock this stuff. DAMMIT, JOSH, GET IT TOGETHER!

My Bonus Dad Harry gave me this half-bottle when I was up in New York recently, as he had picked it up on a weekend trip to Red Hook. I normally don't really care for ginger things (too spicy) and felt skeptical, but was immediately taken in by the freshness and vibrancy of the flavour. It's so hard to describe: it's smooth and slightly sweet without being cloying, tasting clear and vibrant and ginger-y without the punch in the face. I want to put it in everything (going to try the Intense Martini soon), but last night--in a dark and stormy mood myself--settled on the suggestion offered on the tag around the neck of the bottle: an Intense Dark and Stormy. Here's the recipe.

It hit the spot like you wouldn't believe, and I'm not even a dark rum fan after what happened a couple of years ago with my friend Monkey Boy--but that's another story.

I'll keep you posted on my efforts to get this wonderfulness down to DC, and in the meantime, I'll be stocking up on my next trip up to New York.

Liquor: Pimm's Cup

I love brunch, and I love day drinking, so it should be a surprise to no one that I love morning cocktails. There's just something about a light drink in the lazy morning that is the epitome of complete weekend indulgence and relaxation. I've been warned that I will find myself swept up in the melee of soccermomhood before I know it (SCARY!) so I'm making a good effort to enjoy this kind of life while I can.

Mimosas will always be my favourite and the go-to classic for most places, although my dear friend and often brunch partner Lilypad always goes for the gold with a Bloody Mary. This cocktail, though, is a wonderful alternative that many Americans aren't aware of: the Pimm's Cup. It's actually a very old cocktail that was historically enjoyed by the colonists (in fact I first discovered it on a fall trip to Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago) and by their erstwhile compatriots back in Britain for eons before that. The sweet, utterly refreshing taste is the perfect way to wake up on a beautiful lazy Sunday, but in fact you can drink it at any time of day, really, since the alcohol content is only 25%. Hell, you can throw it in a tumbler and call it iced tea if you want--don't let those other soccer moms judge you!

Pimm's Cup
makes 1 bomb-ass wake up cocktail. Sunflowers optional.

What You Need
Pimm's liqueur
Sprite or 7-Up
Sliced cucumber, for garnish (this is NOT optional!!!)

What You Do
Stack a tall glass with ice, and fill with Pimm's about a third of the way. Top off with Sprite or 7-Up, add a cucumber slice or two and one on the rim for garnish, and you're golden.

Seriously, the cucumber slice is not optional. The point of including one on the rim is so that every time you tip the glass up to take a sip, your nose takes a whiff of the cuke as an accompaniment to the flavours of the liqueur. There is science behind garnishes, people!
Posted on August 27, 2013 .

Liquor: Grapefruit Crush

I really don't know WTF is going on right now, it's 90 degrees outside and football is on. Something is not right. I'm gonna go ahead and assume that it's still summer though because I'm not ready to pack away my wedges and white denim shorts yet, and THIS was the drink of my summer: a Grapefruit Crush. I discovered it on a girl's trip with my chickadees Tiny Bird and Lilypad to Annapolis, Maryland at O'Brien's Steakhouse. The bartender there was a barred lawyer, mixing drinks because it paid better than being an attorney, which caused no small amount of anxiety about my budding legal career...but the vodka fixed that.

O'Brien's original recipe calls for Finlandia grapefruit vodka shaken with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and topped off with Sprite. *I* could never find Finlandia and I forgot about the Sprite until just now, so this is my drink:

Grapefruit Crush
makes 1 refreshing drink

What You Need
Absolute Ruby Red Vodka (I keep mine in the freezer so it's always nice and cold)
1 fresh squeezed pink or red grapefruit, whatever you can find

What You Do
Throw some ice into a glass (crushed is cool if you've got it). Pour in some vodka, how much you want is probably in direct relation to how your day was. I usually use two shots' worth because I like my drinks strong. Squeeze the hell out of a grapefruit into the glass. Scrape the fruit against the side of the glass and get all that pulpy goodness in there. Don't worry about the seeds, they're just little baby thin white seeds and they won't bother you. You can fish them out I guess but don't make this weird, if you're so tightly wound that you have to do that then you DEFINITELY need this drink. Mix it all up with a long spoon and drink up, preferably giggling with girlfriends or at a pool somewhere. I like this drink because it's so simple you can still make more even if you're kinda drunk already. If you wanna get crazy you can add that Sprite for sweetness or fizz or whatever. I'm sure I'll try it that way next time if I can remember.

Posted on August 13, 2013 .