The Honolulu Lulu

Just hours before Labor Day 2010 hits, here’s one last sweet cocktail to go alongside The Bramble, The Dark ‘N Stormy and The Moscow Mule as a drink just right for summer picking.  The Honolulu Lulu is ideal for sipping on your sun-baked balcony, poolside, or to get you through the agony of having to watch the neighbors sniff through your old album collections and mis-matched dish sets during your Labor Day Yard Sale Blowout.

Not to mention that if you plan on making a human sacrifice to your favorite tiki god on a forbidden burial ground deep in the heart of the Kula Kai Caverns, there isn’t a cocktail with a name better suited.

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The Bramble

Created in the late 1980s by legendary English mixologist Dick Bradsell, The Bramble uses a blackberry liqueur called Crème de Mûre to bring a sweet berry flavoring to what is basically a gin sour.

A key ingredient here is the crushed ice, which cannot be substituted with cubes for the reason that as the ice melts, the flavor of the drink slowly morphs.  I noticed that the citrus of the lemon juice was slowly overcome by the wonderful full flavor of the berry liqueur, prompting me to hold off on my next sip longer and longer to let the ice have its way with the glass.  The Bramble is another great summer cocktail you won’t mind serving to your grandmother.  It’s light on its feet and will keep you light on yours as well.

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The French Gimlet

Monday was officially the first day of summer, and here’s the perfect cocktail to conjure up for celebrating the season’s arrival.  It boasts a citrusy aroma without coming off as “fruity,” and its sweetness offsets the alcohol taste without overwhelming it, so with each sip you’re presented with a gentle reminder that your beverage does, in fact, contain spirits.

But the most appealing part of a French Gimlet is the story of how one of its ingredients – the sweetly floral liqueur called St-Germain – makes its way to store shelves.  Let us take a moment to pay tribute the small tribe of French elderberry-picking, bicycle-riding farmers in the French Alps that make St-Germain possible. Continue reading “The French Gimlet” »

The Vesper

The Vesper is a martini made famous by author Ian Fleming and his fictional creation, James Bond, in the 1953 (and very first) James Bond book, Casino Royale.

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

Vesper Lynd is Bond’s very first female interest, and arguably the woman he falls for harder than any who came after.  In the novel, Bond eventually names his prized drink after her, but their love is not to last.  Harboring her status as a double-agent, Vesper eventually realizes her traitorous acts will spell doom to any future she and agent 007 could have, and kills herself, leaving behind a note admitting her guilt, a broken and profoundly stoic lover, and one hell of a hotly-named cocktail

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Vodka Martini

Did you know that the notorious “three-martini lunch” has its own wikipedia page with and in-depth explanation along with suggested reasons for its unfortunate demise (In case you’re curious, Jimmy Carter was partly to blame)?  Here’s a small sample:

The three-martini lunch is a term used in the United States to describe a leisurely, indulgent lunch enjoyed by businessmen or executives. It refers to a common belief that many businessmen have enough leisure time and wherewithal to consume more than one martini during the work day. Steaks or lobster are sometimes considered a staple of these lunches.

I am pretty sure I myself do not possess the wherewithal to consume three martinis during the work day, but I’d sure love to work for a company that would allow me to attempt the experiment.  Maybe someday I’ll be that lucky.  In the meantime, I will have to restrain myself to enjoying my absolute favorite alcoholic beverage during evening leisure time, in my favorite reading chair, my Ultra Lounge music collection playing out of my iDock, fat ass cat at my feet, some juicy gourmet burgers cooking up in the kitchen, and MG by my side, watching back video of his animated monkey puppet. (no, that is not a euphemism).

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The Horse’s Neck

The Horse’s Neck is named specifically for its garnish, the long citrus spirals which are laid in the glass to represent a “neck” hanging over the edge. Supposedly, when placed properly, it looks as if a horse is sticking its neck out of your cocktail.

For certain, a Horse’s Neck is THE drink to be relaxing with while watching any of the three Rock Hudson-Doris Day “battle of the sexes” flicks from the 1960s, but none more so than Lover Come Back which features Day and Hudson as rival Madison Avenue advertising execs. And if I am ever lucky enough to be reincarnated as a 1960s Madison Avenue advertising exec, this is the drink I will use to liquor up my potential clients, flatter the hell out of the boss, and celebrate landing the big new panty hose account the whole town’s been buzzing about. Hopefully, I’ll be doing it at a bar called Floyd’s or Charlie’s with crushed red velvet walls and an organ version of “The Girl from Ipanema” lingering in the background.

Yeah, that is definitely the way I’ll go.

Bourbon is very much a “mom and dad” drink in my head, and my mom and dad never even drank it. Thank television. How many times did Darren’s boss from Bewitched swallow down a bourbon after seeing a pink pony magically appear before his eyes only to watch it vanish moments later, signaling the cue for bourbon number two, “and make it a double, Louise!” So in my head, bourbon is and always will be what grown-ups drink when they socialize.

Now that I think of it, Darren on Bewtiched was a 1960s advertising exec as well. Based on my apparent obsession with the era and the profession, you’d think I’d be a bigger fan of Mad Men, but it just ain’t so. I downloaded the first season from iTunes, and got through about six episodes. Not bad, but it just didn’t grab me. I’d watch it with the sound off any day, though. Those suits! That furniture! Pregnant women somking! Kids wrapping their faces up in plastic dry cleaning bags! Good times!

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Harvey Wallbanger

Let’s hear it for Harvey!

This is a drink I’ve been curious about all my life. If my parents weren’t drinking it in the seventies, they were certainly referencing it in conversation as a popular beverage among the kings and queens of the shag carpet set. It was brought up on Match Game routinely. And remember that character actor on Bewitched? The one who played the drunk who was always settled at the bar where Darrin, Larry and their important client would go to lunch as Samantha popped in surreptitiously to investigate and then pop out just as quickly – leaving him to double-take, eye the bottom of his glass questionably and then sputter, “Hey Floyd… another Harvey Wallbanger!”

This drink is fabled in my consciousness. A litany of childhood pop culture references, a sunshiney-day disposition, and one of the best hedonistic names of all time!

The legend of the naming of the Harvey Wallbanger is questionable. The story that, if not true, is certainly the most circulated centers on a Manhattan Beach surfer named Harvey who loved to add Galliano to his screwdriver (which, sadly, is all a Harvey Wallbanger is – oj, vodka and a little Galliano). Poor old Harvey had one too many one night and went slamming into a couple walls on his way out of the bar. True or not, the story’s quirky and disreputable tone is a perfect match for the drink name.

Galliano is a sweet, vanilla-ish liquer named after Giuseppe Galliano, an officer in the Italian Army during the first Italo-Ethiopian War (1895-1896). I possess no Collins glass, which is the glass you’re supposed to serve this in, but I’m sure the Bewitched town drunk wouldn’t have turned down a Wallbanger in a Pilsner beer glass, so why should anyone else mind?

  • one ounce vodka
  • four ounces orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce of Galliano

Pour vodka and orange juice into a Collins glass filled with ice.  Stir, and then float the Galiano over the top.  “Floating” is also known as “layering” and works like this: pour Galliano into the drink over the back of a bar spoon so as to keep it at the top on its own separate layer (so obviously don’t stir the drink once the Galliano is present). It will remain separate from the rest of the drink because of the difference in density and sugar content.

Arguments about whether or not to garnish the drink abound, but I went ahead and did it. A great sweet, tangy morning or mid-day beverage, this little Wallbanger is.

And for the Bewtiched purists out there… that “town drunk” who also turned up at local parks, local jails and random bus stops on the show was played by Dick Wilson, better known to America as “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” pitch man, Mister Whipple.

Huevos Rancheros and Tequila

Fresh homemade salsa has become a regular thing with me lately, and any dish I find that can accommodate it is going straight to the top of my “to do” list. More often than not, I’m racing to finish a leftover stash of it from a previous night’s meal. Any more than two days sitting in the refrigerator, and the salsa loses its potency, becomes too watery and stands in the refrigerator merely as a reminder of my inability to reduce recipe measurements when I’m only cooking for myself and MG and not the entire office.

So when I see a recipe or a blog entry (in this case, Smitten Kitchen, yet again that makes room for the salsa, I’m pretty sure it’s to cook up in my kitchen.

Add to the fact that egg dishes are usually pretty easy to conquer, fast to prepare, and good morning, noon and night, and this recipe even had more going for it.

And if you can find an excuse to squeeze in some tequila on a Wednesday night too, well…!

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String of Pearls

This is a sweet, smooth, dare I say “cozy” after-dinner drink to serve on a night you’re staying in with a movie on the big screen TV.  They also might fit alongside the Sidecar, Whiskey Sour and Horse’s Neck at a 1940’s Prohibition-themed party. The creme de cacao and the half-and-half pretty much sweep any alcoholic bite right out of the glass, so be careful.  They go down fast.

I have made this drink a couple times now for MG.  Not sure how he feels about the actual drink, but he’s certainly loving that I’ve regularly got bags of Hershey almond kisses in the kitchen cupboard.

  • 1 1/2 cups of cracked ice or 6 ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 ounces of vodka
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 ounce of half and half
  • 1 chocolate kiss or chocolate-covered coffee bean

Fill a cocktail shaker with the ice and then add the vodka, creme de cacao and half-and-half.  Shake vigorously to blend and chill

Place the chocolate kiss in the bottom of a chilled martini glass.  Strain the mixture into the glass and serve