Friday, July 23, 2010

Hot Summer Nights

   I am out of my favorite summer time drink, sweet tea.  I am addicted to the Southern form of iced tea.  Sugar does not dissolve in cold water, in the south they boil the water and sugar together to form a syrup, then let the tea bags seep.  This is then added to a pitcher, leaving it strong enough to not be watered down by ice cubes.

How to:
   Add water to a saucepan (amount doesn't matter, it will get fixed later), add 1 1/2 cups sugar.  Boil.  When it has boiled, turn the stove down as low as possible and add eight tea bags, stir, sometimes I add a cinnamon stick.  Let it sit for 15 minutes.  Pour the tea into a 1 gallon jug, leave the bags in the saucepan.  Pour cold water over the tea bags in the pan and add this liquid to the jug.  Keep repeating until the 1 gallon jug is full.  (Squeezing the tea bags can lead to a bitter brew.  Because you will be adding ice cubes to your glass you want it strong.)

   But, pity, I am out.  SO I GUESS I WILL JUST HAVE TO TRY  the black cherry vodka I just bought. 

   Well...all right,  3 ounces of cola to 1 1/2 ounces of black cherry vodka is a pretty good summer time drink too.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When is a maraschino cherry not a maraschino cherry?

   When it is a “blob of artificially colored cellulose, …the product we know today, in all its zombielike glory, ” according to David Wondrich. 
He wrote “Imbibe!” in 2007.  This book started out as an update of a 1928 Asbury edition of “How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant’s Companion” originally written by Jerry Thomas in 1862 and long out of print.  After five years of research (I envision the movie “The Thin Man when I imagine the path the research took him on), David wrote a history book, with a few recipes to try out in it. 

   What started out as an update of the 1928 book led David to search for the exact ingredients and equipment to recreate the recipes.  He discovered that a cherry is not a cherry and ice is not ice.

   The Luxardo Company, now, makes the only true maraschino cherry for your drinking pleasure.  In the 1890s, a maraschino cherry was a sour cherry macerated in maraschino liqueur.

   Ice came in a solid block in the late 1800s.  In preparing cold drinks, “great discrimination should be observed in the use of ice.”  Shaved ice should be used when the spirits form the principle ingredient and no water is used in the drink.  If eggs, milk, wine, vermouth, seltzer, or mineral water is used in a drink, use small lumps of ice.  These lumps must always be removed before serving the drink to the customer.

   I haven’t even mentioned the problems David ran into with sugar.  Non, non, I repeat, of the current sugar on the market is the equivalent of 19th century sugar.  White, raw sugar is too dark, but it is the closest to the taste.  What the author recommends is a Demerara or a turbinado pulverized in food processor.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

My old friend is a Russian.  When I turned twenty-one and ordered my first drink, I asked for something sweet.  I got a White Russian.  Not willing to venture too far from home, I ordered a White Russian for years, sometimes a Black.  I knew what to expect when I would ask for a Russian. I later learned to ask for vodka and orange juice when I felt the Russian was too heavy.  Turning even braver, I would ask for cranberry and vodka. Later, I got brave and ordered Long Island Iced Tea because I saw it in a movie.   And I have now learned that there isn't even a hint of tea in it.  Who knew?

I was not one to keep a bar at home because the company I usually kept meant that nothing, no matter what type of liquor it was, would be there when I returned home from work.  Fortunately, my kids did not inherit their father's taste for cognac or cheap beer (he mourned the passing of Rainier beer and Bohemian-but the cases were a nice size box for me to use for storage and I had lots), or my father's taste for gallon Gallo, or his father's for beer---any beer; many of the people that hung around or passed through my house made light work of anything that alcohol on the label.  Some people spoil it for others.

So, I am now enjoying a solitary existence and I am slowing building a small inventory for my bar.  Keeping some alcohol around, once a week I make something out of the bartender's book.  My sister is amused by this and sends me recipes and videos of her hero Rachael Maddox showing off her expertise with filling the martini glass on her political commentary show.

To make a White Russian, you need vodka, coffee liqueur (Kahlua), and a little bit of cream.  Take an old-fashioned glass, fill it up with ice, pour about two ounces of vodka directly in the glass, one ounce of your Kahlua right on top of that, and now float the cream on top. That's how you make a White Russian. You can also make a Black Russian the exact same way, just don't use any cream.

The Russian in my 1969 book is made with 1 jigger of vodka, 1 jigger of dry gin, 1 jigger of creme de cacao, stirred well together with ice, strained into a glass.  And I do have the correct ingredients in my little, growing bar for a Russian. 

Hello old friend.

(Kahlua is on the list for next month. And my sister wants me to try a Communist, guess it is not quite the same as a Russian.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


My sister Amanda has been amused by my new hobby.  She has been sending me recipes and picking up library books.  One neat book that she found was "Moonshine" by Matthew B. Rowley.  It was light, an easy read, full of stories. I recommend it.  If you want to learn how to make a still, there is a how to in the book!

My Apologies to the Irish

Well, Saint Patrick's Day has come...and gone.  Holidays are a time to eat wonderful ethnic foods you usually can not get at other times of the year.  Saint Patrick's Day is no exception.  Irish Soda Bread is--- well, what can one say.  They say the American version is sweeter and more cake-like with raisins than the true Irish soda bread.  I will have to visit Ireland one day to check it out.  I toasted the day with my soda bread and my  Famous Grouse on the rocks.  Thus my apologies to the Irish.  The article in "Cooking Light, March, 2010" says that Saint Patrick taught the Irish to distill wine, they then moved on to grains.  Prohibition cut exports and the industry declined, but there is now a revival under way.  Irish whiskey is light and smooth, according to the ad.  A middle ground between intense bourbon and peaty Scotch.  Bushmills Black Bush is to have a slightly sweet, caramel flavor (you will also taste floral notes and vanilla), so I will soon pick up an Irish whiskey and see what the difference is between that and Famous Grouse.  Who comes up with these ads?  Jameson 18 Year Limited Reserve is lightly smoky with a hint of leather, this outstanding whiskey has a complex buttery flavor with hints of citrus and spice.  As for my love affair with Old Grouse, I can drink it straight now, but I prefer it on the rocks, so my thirty days to drink Scotch worked really well.  How many old broads can throw down a shot of Scotch straight?  Well, I can think of one, and my whimpy Old Grouch-Famous Grouse wouldn't hold a candle to the single malts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Barbary Coast--Whizz-Doodle with Cocoa???

Stop.  Is this is one of those tricks such as calling a drink Long Island Iced Tea when it doesn’t have tea in it? (However, it does taste very similar.)

My high school graduation was in 1969, so karma led me to a book from that year to help me with my quest.  (I should have been experimenting with alcohol in my early years.) I am leafing through “The Bartender’s Guide”, 29th edition printed, September, 1969 (original published June, 1940).  So many drinks to choose from.  First, I was torn between a gin drink or a whisky drink, Scotch whisky of course.  I am becoming quite a fan of Famous Grouse.   I do suppose I should make a transatlantic crossing and at least try what Jack Daniels has to offer.  And I did enjoy the Tanqueray gin that I sampled.  It was not what I expected.  Botanicals! Dry gin! Lovely.

As I search, there is a drink that has both whisky and gin and crème de cocoa in it.  Cocoa?  That got my attention.  What gal doesn’t appreciate cocoa?  Crème de Cocoa is a liqueur.  A liqueur is a sweetened spirit with various flavors, oils, and extracts.  I was had at the mention of cocoa, but sweetened?  Hey, I am a two sugars in my coffee gal, this is an amazing discovery.  It gets even better, crème de cocoa is a rich, chocolate-flavored liqueur, made from cacao and vanilla beans.  It has two colors: white &

Vanilla beans!!!  My favorite gin, my favorite whisky, cocoa, and vanilla, does it get any better?

Leafing through the guide, I discovered that the drink Barbary Coast and Whizz-Doodle are the same drink:

¼ dry gin
¼ crème de cacao
¼ Scotch whisky
¼ cream
shake well with ice, strain into glass
     note:      DeKuyper has labels for crème de cacao and crème de cocoa. They are the same thing, a lively on-line discussion thinks it is a marketing strategy because of the revival of classic cocktails.  Some sources say  there is a difference between the light and the dark, others say there is only a color difference.

Well, this was an interesting cocktail, I wasn't too excited about it.  I think I love the purity of the individuals by themselves.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Amaretto Tea
Drink Type: Cocktail - A
6 oz. Tea (Hot)
2 oz. Amaretto
Pour hot tea into a pousse-café glass, using a spoon in the glass to prevent cracking. Add Amaretto, but do not stir. Top with whipped cream.

“Pour into a what?” I asked myself. Glassware is almost as important as the alcohol in the consumption of alcohol, as I have come to realize. One site for glassware says that the pousse-cafe glass is not manufactured anymore. A pousse-café glass looks like an over-sized pony glass, but with a flare to the top. It’s stemmed, and holds about six ounces. It is said to make an art out of the science of drinks.

Pousse-café glasses are used for creating a layered drink. Different liquids have different densities. Heavy liqueurs are used for the bottom layer of the cocktail, and progressively lighter liquids are added to build the layers. “The art comes in actually building the layers. After pouring in the first layer, insert the bowl of the spoon into the glass as far as it will go without being in the liquid, with the rounded side of the spoon facing up. Adjust the tip of the spoon so that it’s very near, or even touching the side of the glass. Very gently pour the next layer over the bowl of the spoon, so that it floats on top of the previous layer. The trick is to pour in a steady but very slow stream to prevent the layers from mixing.”

I recently picked up a glass to use for Irish coffee that should work well.  It looks similar to the description of a pousse-café glass. (

The Amaretto Tea doesn’t lend its self to layering, I discovered this while trying the spoon trick.  Also, I threw two cherries in to see what would happen ( they sunk--warm cherries work well in a hot pie not in a hot tea). Otherwise…thumbs up.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Disaronno: What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;

Enticing holiday commercials showed partiers asking for Disaronno.  “What,” this novice asks, “is Disaronno.? 

Just as the confusion over Tanqueray and the discovery that it was merely gin existed, there was a realization that Disaronno is merely amaretto.  ...And I love the artificial, non-alcoholic amaretto used to flavor coffee.  Amaretto is an Italian sweet almond-flavoured liqueur. It is made from a base of apricot or almond pits, or sometimes both.

Disaronno Originale has a characteristic bittersweet almond taste (although it contains no almonds or nuts).  Disaronno claims its "originale" amaretto's "secret formula" is unchanged from the year 1525.  The company describes its amaretto as an infusion of "apricot kernel oil" with "absolute alcohol, burnt sugar, and the pure essence of seventeen selected herbs and fruits". The amber liqueur is presented in a rectangular glass decanter designed by a craftsman from Murano.

The amaretto name is a diminutive of the Italian amaro, meaning "bitter", indicating the distinctive flavour lent by the mandorla amara--the bitter almond or the drupe kernel. However, the bitterness is not unpalatable, and the flavour is enhanced by sweeteners, and sometimes sweet almonds, in the final products. Therefore, the liqueur's name can be said to describe the taste as "a little bitter".  Conflation of amare and amore ("love") is primarily responsible for the associations with romance.  Amaretto should not be confused with amaro, a different family of Italian liqueurs that, while also sweetened, have a stronger bitter flavour coming from herbs.

Amaretto serves a variety of culinary uses.

Amaretto may be served neat (by itself) or on the rocks (with ice). It is often added to other beverages to create several popular mixed drinks. It is also a popular choice of liqueur to add to coffee in the morning.

•    Amaretto is added to desserts, including ice cream, which enhances the flavour of the dessert with almonds and complements chocolate.
•    Savoury recipes which call for it usually focus on meat, such as chicken.
•    A few shots of Amaretto can be added to pancake batter for a richer flavour.
•    often a major flavor component almondine sauce used on fish and vegetables

Move on over Irish coffee, what a lovely morning coffee Disaronno creates.  Maybe I will make pancakes next week.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Happy Anniversary Prohibition

The Temperance movement blamed alcohol for many of society's ills, especially crime and murder. Saloons, a social haven for men who lived in the still untamed West, were viewed by many, especially women, as a place of debauchery and evil. Prohibition, members of the Temperance movement urged, would stop husbands from spending all the family income on alcohol and prevent accidents in the workplace caused by workers who drank during lunch.

In the beginning of the 20th century, there were Temperance organizations in nearly every state. By 1916, over half of the U.S. states already had statutes that prohibited alcohol. In 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the sale and manufacture of alcohol, was ratified. It went into effect on January 16, 1920.

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, making alcohol once again legal. This was the first and only time in U.S. history that an Amendment has been repealed.

Miss Kitty, my barkeep, and Blood and Sand

I consoled myself earlier this week with a drink called Blood and Sand. My good friend, Miss Kitty passed away.  When they are old and sick you can prepare yourself, but she wasn’t.  The vet thinks she was manufacturing blood clots, when I took her in her front left side was paralyzed. So we did what was best for her.

Miss Kitty was named for the barkeep on Gunsmoke.  Pretty, aloof and  smart, topped off with a little of a hard edge.

I am realizing that in my old age, I am enjoying lighter, tropical drinks.  Blood and Sand’s only drawback is the color of the drink, in a dark bar I suppose you wouldn’t notice.

My supply of Famous Grouse Scotch, est. 1800, is running low.  Dewar’s White Label, est. 1846, is the new kid on the block.  Amazingly, you can see a color difference, the Grouse is darker.  The Famous Grouse also has an earthier smell compared to the Dewar’s.  My experiment on learning to drink Scotch is progressing well.  I can drink two fingers of Dewar’s with one ice cube, no water.

Blood and Sand

1 part DeKuyper Cherry Flavored Brandy
1 part blended Scotch
4 parts orange juice  

Friday, January 8, 2010

It’s all in the name

Tanqueray appeared in many of the commercials that interupted online movie and television shows during December.  They made it sound exotic and foreign.  Tanqueray is gin.  I was tempted to say, "Merely."  I stopped myself.  I am learning that this is a serious business.  Merely would be calling a Mercedes merely a car.  Modern gins may remain very simple – such as the Beefeater London dry gin, which is more-or-less the same recipe used by Beefeater when they opened shop in the early 19th century – or they may incorporate other flavoring agents or improved distillation for a crisper taste. The word 'Gin' derives from the Old French word 'geneva' meaning juniper. It is a colorless alcoholic liquor which was originally distilled, or redistilled, from rye and adding juniper berries as flavoring. Other flavoring, or aromatics, were also added such as anise, caraway seeds, or angelica root. The type of Gin called 'Tanqueray Gin' dates back to 1830 when Charles Tanqueray produced a recipe of botanicals and became a London dry Gin distiller. The recipe for Tanqueray is made with juniper berries, coriander, angelica and other secret botanicals. In 1898, Tanqueray was amalgamated with the Gordon's gin distillery.

Jerald recipe
1 oz Tanqueray® gin
4 oz cherry juice
4 oz orange juice

Stir together in a cup, and serve.

Todays sources:


Last week, a Speyside Sling, using Famous Grouse whisky, was my first “cocktail” of the year. It was a great combination but slings are light and fruity drinks and I over did the ice, watering it down too much.  A sling is a type of alcoholic drink that at first was not considered a cocktail.  The term cocktail was reserved in the 19th century for drinks that contain bitters. This distinction is no longer made, and all alcoholic mixed drinks are now essentially considered cocktails. 

The typical sling usually has several base ingredients, some type of alcohol, fruit flavors (particularly citrus), water (flat or fizzy), and sugar. The tradition of serving this drink cold, which is now the preferred method, came into popularity in the early 20th century, particularly with the invention of the Singapore Sling.  The invention of this drink is credited to Ngiam Tong Boom, a bartender at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore during the early 20th century. The Singapore Sling may include the following:

•        Gin •        Cherry brandy •        Cointreau •        Benedictine •        Pineapple juice •        Lime juice •        Grenadine

The drink is garnished with mixed fruit, and served either straight up or over ice, depending upon the individual drinker’s preference. Early recipes suggest the ingredients were shaken with ice and then strained and served straight up. (Many recipes of the Singapore version call for a dash of bitters, which would technically be outside the traditional classification for slings.)  The gin sling is much more true to form containing only gin, lemon juice, sugar, water, and possibly an orange peel twist. The Highland sling substitutes Scotch for gin, but is quite similar in other respects.

Friday, January 1, 2010

For my first cocktail of 2010, I will make a Speyside Sling.
  • The earliest known printed use of the word “cocktail” was in The Farmer’s Cabinet, April 28, 1803.
  • The earliest definition of "cocktail" was in the May 13, 1806, edition of the Balance and Columbian Repository, a publication in Hudson, New York.
  • The first publication of a bartenders' guide which included cocktail recipes was in 1862 — How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon Vivant's Companion, by "Professor" Jerry Thomas.
  • The first "cocktail party" ever thrown was allegedly by Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1917.
  • During Prohibition in the United States (1920–1933), when the sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, cocktails were still consumed illegally in establishments known as speakeasies.
  • Cocktails became less popular in the late 1960s and 1970s.
  • In the 1980s cocktails again became popular. 
  • Traditional cocktails and gin started to make a comeback in the 2000s. 
o    Source Wikipedia:

There are distilleries in the Scottish countryside, in Speyside. “Speyside scotch is highly perfumed; compared to smell of carnations, roses, pear drops, violets and cream soda. They have little to no peatiness and some have a smokey odor.”  My favorite flower is the carnation, but Scotch should remind one of musty libraries, old books, and the mist on the moors, not perfume.  The following cocktail can be made with Famous Grouse.
Speyside Sling
Fill a highball glass with ice.
Squeeze lemon over ice and drop into shaker.
Add all ingredients apart from ginger ale and shake with ice.
Strain into glass and top up with ginger ale.

Glass Type:   Collins / Highball
Garnish: Orange Slice/Cherry
     Submitted By   Wayne Collins


                                                                                                                                                       Amount    Ingredient
1 shot(s)    Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
    Wedge of Fresh Lemon
1 shot(s)    FAMOUS GROUSE

1 shot(s)    BOLS - Cherry Brandy

top with    FEVER TREE - Ginger Ale

The popular brands of cherry brandy are Bols®, DeKuyper®, Kirschwasser® and Seagram's®.  Shopping on New Year’s eve left me with DeKuyper or Kirschwasser.  Kirschwasser had a cool label, but a plastic bottle.  It seems sanctimonious, but who wants to shell out money for a nice liquor that is sheathed in plastic.  
I am sharing my experience with “The Thin Man.” and my good friend Viviana tonight.  The Internet really is a cool thing.  She is home in the U. District toasting in the new year with a Charlie Chan marathon.  Viv says, "I opened my Lagavulin and it smelled like a library - fireplace smoke and old leather bindings. I'm in love... " There is nothing like a black and white flick.  The world was doomed when Technicolor was introduced.  Happy New Year One and All !

About Me

Boomer, hippie, yuppie, none of these are me. Born in the 50's, graduated from high school in the 60's, married & had children in the 70's, graduated from college in the 80's, joined corporate America & divorced in the 90's, was an early casualty of the recession in 00's,08, still unemployed in 09.