Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cocktail Wednesdays: Alfonso (Special) Cocktail

Alfonso (special) cocktail

The posts have become few and far between, I know. A hard day - a hard week so far- and it's a good day for a cocktail. I opened Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book, and we settled on the Alfonso (Special) Cocktail.

Alfonso (Special) Cocktail
1 dash Angostura Bitters
4 dashes Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Dry Gin
1 oz French Vermouth
2 oz Orange Liqueur

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

The verdict: The main flavor is that of the orange liqueur, but it is tempered by the rest of the cocktail. Scott especially likes it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Grand Marntini

Grand Marintini

Tonight's cocktail was a bit of an experiment. Scott proclaimed it the Grand Marntini, though I am not sure that's the name I would choose.

When we made the Dry Martini using the older recipe that called for more vermouth and orange bitters, I liked it much better than your standard olive juice martini.  On the other hand, orange bitters is not a standard ingredient in most bars.  When I was out for a friend's birthday and wanted to order a martini, there was no chance I could get that version. Later when I mentioned it to Scott, he suggested that I could have ordered it with orange liqueur as the orange component, because Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and triple sec are all commonly found bar ingredients in less well-stocked bars. So tonight we tried it with the last of a bottle of Grand Marnier.

The Grand Marntini

Splash Orange Liqueur
2 oz Gin
1 oz Dry Vermouth

Chill a cocktail  glass and coat it with orange liqueur. Stir gin and vermouth over ice and strain into the glass.

The verdict: A passable option, preferable to the olive version, in our opinions. The citrus is muted. As always, be sure to use a quality vermouth that hasn't been open for long.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Coctail Wednesdays: Aviation Cocktail

Aviation Cocktail

I have been hearing about the Aviation cocktail for a while. The folks at 12 Bottle Bar talk about celebrated bar tenders Gary Regan and Erik Ellestad making the Aviation, about Harry Craddock erroneously leaving the Creme de Violette out in his famous Savoy Cocktail Book. David Wondrich’s talks about it in Imbibe! Aviation Gin even uses lavender in its botanical mix. There's even a movie named after it. Invented by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York, and first published in his 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks, the Aviation is a type of gin sour.  For reasons of Scott's susceptibility to heartburn with lemon juice, I picked one of the ratios with lower levels of it.

Aviation Cocktail

2 oz Gin (London Dry)
1/2 oz Lemon juice
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
2 tsp Crème de Violette

Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry.

The verdict: We both liked it. I thought it was a nice balance, with lovely floral notes complimenting the sour, and that the botanicals and maraschino blended well. Scott thought it was "a wonderful fruity-ish, but not too fruity drink", and would count among the top of that category for him.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cocktail...: Holland House

Holland House\

We're back with a new spirit added to the bar and a cocktail with a history that goes back to the turn of the century, the Holland House. We picked up a bottle of genever while we were out of town, since it is not sold in Michigan, and we ended up selecting this cocktail as the first concoction to try it in.

Genever is essentially the precursor to gin, originating in the Netherlands. Unlike gin, which is made purely from neutral spirit and botanicals including juniper, genever also contains a tripple-grain-based maltwine, which changes the flavor profile and feel of the spirit. In Jerry Thomas' famous cocktail book of 1862, genever appears as one of only four base spirits used, and many cocktails were originally made with genever.

Holland House

1 3⁄4 oz Genever
3⁄4 oz Dry vermouth
1⁄4 oz Lemon juice
1⁄4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Lemon twist as garnish

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The verdict: I heard a number of positive reactions to this drink, and I liked it myself. People noted the similarities to The Last Word, but with floral notes in lieu of herbal notes.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cocktail Tuesday: Michigan Mojito

Sorry for the long radio silence. Today, I bring you a drink that Scott invented tonight, the Michigan Mojito, which takes advantage of our lovely Michigan cherries.

As you can see, we had a good harvest of cherries today, and there may be an equal amount left on our little tree. A huge improvement over last year's harvest of 0 cherries.

Michigan Mojito
1 tbsp sugar
5-6 mint leaves
5 pitted tart cherries
1/2 lime
2 oz rum
Club soda

In a tall glass, muddle mint, cherries, and lime in sugar. Add rum and stir. Fill glass with ice, top with club soda, and stir.

The verdict: Tasty! Imagine a Mojito crossed with cherry limeaid.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday: Tennessee


This week's choice was another rye drink, Tennessee, this one featuring maraschino.


1 1⁄2 oz Rye
1⁄2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1⁄2 oz Lemon juice
1 Maraschino cherry (as garnish)

Shake over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry.

The verdict: Some people apparently make it at a 1:1:1 ratio, but I think it was well-balanced with this amount, and the lemon wasn't enough to bother Scott's acid reflux. On the other hand, he felt that the rye wasn't a good match for the maraschino and lemon.  We are interested in trying this again with a different rye, to see whether it was this rye in particular or rye in general.  The rye we chose is unusual, as it i 100% rye, rather than simply majority rye grains used to make the whiskey.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cocktail Wednesdays: Armistice


We went to Frankenmouth this weekend for an event and while we were there, we picked up a bottle of Old George Double Barrel rye whiskey from the Grand Traverse Distillery tasting room.  The distillery itself is up at the top of Michigan's lower peninsula in Traverse City,but I suppose that they decided that since Frankenmouth is a touristy little fake-Bavarian town, they should have a presence there, and from our perspective, they were not wrong.  And unlike the cookoo clocks Scott was eyeing the whiskey was in our price range, though not as accessible as the fudge or cheese, and not really priced to be an every-day whiskey.  So we chose to feature rye in our cocktail this week, Armistice.

1 1⁄2 oz    Rye Whiskey
1⁄2 oz       Dry Vermouth
1⁄4 oz       Green Chartreuse
1⁄4 oz       Maraschino Liqueur
2 ds          Bitters, Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged

Stir over ice, strain into cocktail glass.

Although we don't have Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters, we felt that the regular Fee Bros. old-fashioned bitters was a decent substitute.

The verdict: We liked this one.  Unlike many other drinks with Chartreuse or maraschino, they don't hog center stage, because the rye also holds its own.  There is spice from the rye, herbs from the chartreuse and sweetness from the maraschino.  The smell reminds me of certain tisanes, with  light herbal, almost floral note, but the flavor is stronger.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry

It's been a long time since I posted, and I apologize for that. It has also been a while since we last had a drink night, thanks to both of us working extra hard, etc. During that time, the photos of the last drink we tried this winter have been lurking on the memory card of my camera, and the recipe I used has been sitting open.

I had read several sources on the Tom and Jerry, which is in many ways the father of today's common eggnog. Tom and Jerry are the principal characters of Pierce Egan's 1821 "Life in London...", an account of the rakish adventures of several English gentlemen from high society to the sort of situations that Robert Downey Junior's Sherlock Holmes uses to try to put Watson's fiancée off in the recent movie versions - boxing, gambling, etc.  This book was so popular that it inspired more than sixty-five imitations by the next year, as well as plays and fashion trends.  By 1823, Tom and Jerry's popularity had spread to New York. By 1831, the phenomenon was so well-known that there were references to Tom and Jerry Shops rather than beer shops.  In the years following, as we do here in the land of the cocktail, we invented a drink by that name. Over the course of the next hundred years, it became so popular that it was nearly ubiquitous. Journalist Damon Runyon wrote, “This hot Tom and Jerry is an old time drink that is once used by one and all in this country to celebrate Christmas with, and in fact it is once so popular that many people think Christmas is invented only to furnish an excuse for hot Tom and Jerry…” Sets of punch bowls and mugs stamped with "Tom and Jerry" were common, until the drink fell out of favor in the last fifty years.

Assembling the drinks on an individual basis will assure that each drink is properly warm. The punch bowl can be used to hold the batter, just be sure to stir the mix up prior to each drink, as it will separate, and thoroughly stir the drink as you add spirits and water or milk.

Tom and Jerry
In a 6 oz Tom and Jerry mug, add:
3 oz Batter
1/2 oz Cognac
1/2 oz Rum
Boiling Water or Hot Milk to top

Add batter to a heated mug
Add spirits, stirring, then boiling water or milk, stirring
Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg

For Batter
Separate 4 eggs into white and yolks
Whip the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff
Beat egg yolks until thin

Fold in 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar into egg yolks
Add a pinch of allspice, cinnamon, and cloves as desired
Fold in egg whites
Mix until light and frothy
Stir batter before each use

Makes enough for 8+ drinks

The verdict: This was a great hot winter drink with eggnog family flavors, but a light and fluffy feel.  I was surprised, but these cappuccino mugs were just the right size, and looked so festive too.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cocktail Wednesdays: Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander

This week, while browsing though a list of classics to see what we hadn't tried yet, I settled on another creamy chocolatey drink  - the Brandy Alexander.  As I poured the drink, I discovered the danger of using the gradations on our new Boston shaker.  I poured the first two ingredients then proceeded to pour the cream far too fast, but since I was simply adding liquid to the same glass and had used up all of the crème de cacao, I was unable to go back and fix it to the correct proportions.

Brandy Alexander

1 oz Cognac
1 oz Crème de Cacao Dark
1 oz Double Cream
Garnish: Grated Nutmeg

Pour all ingredients in a shaker, fill with ice and shake. Double strain into a cocktail glass. Grate nutmeg on top.

The verdict: At the level of cream I accidentally poured in (nearly twice the amount called-for), this drink strongly resembles Bailey's on the rocks. We didn't find it much more chocolatey an irish cream, though that might have been more evident with less cream.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cocktail Wednesdays: Aztec Milk Punch

Aztec Milk Punch

I got a bit of a late start on tonight's drink, so rather than the drink I intended to make, which requires cooking up a batter, I chose to try to find another drink to use the chocolate bitters in.  With slim pickings in what I could find off the bat, I decided to make a twist another drink we did in the past, Milk Punch. We're still deep in the grips of winter, though it has topped freezing frequently of late.  Yesterday, we had extra-heavy snowfall, and though it was not the storm they anticipated, it did set the scene for more wintery drinks.

Aztec Milk Punch

1 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Spiced Dark Rum
1/2 tbsp Sugar
4 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
4 oz Whole Milk

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass
Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with shaved or crushed ice
Garnish with a ground cinnamon.

The verdict: a traditional wintery drink in the eggnogg flavor family without the eggs, and therefor lighter.  A little bit of chocolate,  but not much.  Nothing particularly outstanding, but not bad either, and quick and easy to make.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cocktail Night: Dyckman After Dark

Dyckman After Dark

Back again!  I bought a new charger for my laptop, and everything's working again.

This week, I served Dyckman After Dark in the lovely set of coupes I picked up yesterday at the thrift store for 50 cents a piece.  As per usual, I picked the drink rather last minute, so it is lacking an orange peel garnish.  One reason I selected this drink is that it also makes use of an ingredient we picked up recently, chocolate bitters.

Dyckman After Dark

1 1/2 oz Añejo rum
1 oz Orange liqueur
3 ds Chocolate bitters, Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate
Orange twist garnish

Stir over ice. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with an orange twist.

The verdict: this was a tasty dessert drink, as orange and chocolate are always a good combination.  They work nicely with the rum, and blend together well. It was only a hint of chocolate, and Scott couldn't pick it out specifically.  Our guest liked it, but it is still strong, and the burn was too much for his recently-sick throat.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Snow on a town square

Last night: beautiful, sparkly, fluffy snow gently falling. A quick shopping trip after work. A winter wonderland.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Long time, no post.


It has been a little while since I've posted anything, and it must seem like I've really fallen off the map, especially since I have this goal to post every workday this year.


Just look at my cute puppy dog. You can't see that face and make accusations, can you?

Now, I don't want to seem like I'm blaming Luna for not posting. We adopted her from the Humane Society over a month ago, so that's not it. Mainly I was just super tired and occupied.

I may not be able to post much in the near future, as I am having issues with my computer's charger.

Still, you can't look at her face and be sad.


Just look at her big brown eyes. All is forgiven, right?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cocktail Wednesdays: Antrim Cocktail

Antrim Cocktail

This week's cocktail used the last of a bottle of port that we very much enjoyed.  We drank the rest of it paired with stilton cheese.  This particular port has a lovely nuttiness to it.  Just enough was left for us to try a cocktail using it. The Antrim cocktail was created by "Monk" Antrim in Manila around 1925 and appears in The Gentleman's Companion, vol. 2, by Charles Baker, Jr. (1939).

Antrim Cocktail

1 oz Cognac
1 oz Port
1/2 tsp Sugar

Shake with lots of cracked ice and serve in a rocks glass.

The verdict: The port is the primary element, but it is lightened by the cognac, and of course by being served over ice.  Surprisingly, the drink does not seem particularly more sweet than port alone, so the sugar is definitely a good addition. An enjoyable drink.
Today, the time I expected to spend being productive was spent curled up on the couch trying to feel better, so there's no real update to give.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


So I had this idea that I was going to be super productive this weekend and get a lot of things done. You ever have one of those weekends? As you might have guessed, I barely worked on anything and managed to mess up the things I did do.  This weekend felt like a big failure.

Saturday, we tried to make mozzarella, but only managed to make something similar to ricotta.  Now, I've made mozzarella before, with my mom. It turned out great, and it was easy. We used the same kit and everything. Maybe the pot we used isn't stainless steel.  Maybe I should have used bottled water rather than deciding that tap would do fine when the recipe said chlorine free.  I don't know.

Sunday, after a meeting with some folks to help plan a dance workshop, I stopped by the super nice fabric store, where they were having a sale. I found some gorgeous stuff, but I had no idea how many yards were needed for any of the projects I wanted to make.  Therefor, I spent hours digging through pattern books and trying to settle on similar items to use to guess the yardage.  What a waste of time.  I only walked out of there with a yard of remnant fabric, for which I now need to figure out what shirt pattern to use, so that I can make something with it right away and not violate my plan.

Today, well, it was a bit better, but I still didn't manage to get my planned stuff done. I couldn't find the supplies I needed.  Instead I cleared off my desk, which was something of an undertaking, as I hadn't dealt with it in a couple of months.  That means progress on the office, rather than progress on the basement, which is what I am trying to concentrate on at the moment.  Ahh, well, I'll have to share pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Planning Dance Class

Signs of a problem: you spread you books all around you, look at them and say, "I don't have the dance book I really need..."

Cocktail Wednesdays: Attilio


The other day,  at one of our favorite local Italian restaurants, Scott tried a drink special they called Attilio, a combination of cognac and Drambuie. He is a big fan of the Rusty Nail, which is equal parts scotch and Drambuie, which led him to pick this particular drink. He enjoyed it quite a lot, and was determined to look it up and mix it again a few days later. This is when we found that Attilio appears not to be the name of a standard cocktail, but was probably selected by the restaurant. It appears that the drink without ice but with the same proportions we finally settled on may be known as a Drambuie Snifter.

Saint Attilio was one of the legendary martyrs of the Theban Legion, and is venerated in the area of Trino Vercellese, in Piedmont, north-west Italy. Additionally, Attilio di Fabrizzio is a renowned Italian chef. Either of these may have been the inspiration for this drink's name.


2 oz Cognac
1 oz Drambuie

Stir over ice in a rocks glass. and serve.

The verdict: As I already indicated, this is one that we enjoyed. Scott even said that he likes it better than a Rusty Nail. At just 1/3 Drambuie, its intense flavor is tempered. It's an unusual alcohol, with an herbal flavor, recalling some types of bitters, but also including honey and quite a bit of sweetness.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Basement bar Progress

Today's progress on the house was rehanging the cabinet doors in the basement after painting some interior edges, and adding cabinet pulls. It looks much more finished now, but we're not quite done yet.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Scarf nearly complete

I finished the knitting on this scarf today. Now all I have to do is Kitchener the end where I used a provisional cast on.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Goals for 2013: Consistency

Given how many goals I failed to meet last year, I think I need to reassess how I am making them.  First of all, I think that I need to make the list shorter, to keep it from being overwhelming. I just wasn't starting small enough.  Secondly, I need to make each resolution about the concrete actions I will take toward achieving my desired outcome rather than the finished goal I will accomplish. Also, I will apply the idea that doing something every day is easier than doing something every once in a while.

The idea is for this year's theme to be "Consistency".

So, here goes:

1. Do something toward my masters degree application every workday.

2. Post every workday, even if it's a small post. Also, this means being more timely in my cocktail posts, and providing more content on other topics.

3. Exercise every day, even if it's only walking the dog.

4. Make something every day.  That could be knitting, sewing, jewelry, bread, etc. The item made does not need to be finished to count.

5. Do something to beautify my home every day. That could mean home improvement projects I mean to tackle, yard work, or just cleaning up.

6. Make a meal plan, and only buy the items on the plan.

7. Don't buy anything I won't use immediately. That is to say, don't buy for stash.

8. In conjunction with #7, use the stash before buying. On the whole, in the last few years, I've done quite well with these two goals, and I want to continue with them, but I could do better at using up the stash.

9. If it takes less than 5 minutes to do, don't procrastinate about it.

10. Treat internet & game time as rewards - not to be done unless earned by crossing something off of the to-do list.

11. Review these goals at least every month, preferably more frequently. Post about achievements made by following these actions.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Years Goals: 2012 Recap

Here we are at a new year, and of course that has me wanting to put my goals in writing and recommit/commit to them. It also makes me want to take a look back at the year and see how I did at accomplishing my goals.

When I look back at my goals for 2012, I find myself looking at things that I was considering as resolutions for 2013, not realizing that I was supposed to be implementing them all year! This really comes down to me failing to review and recommit to my goals frequently. I also feel that the list was far too long. Although individual items may have seemed small and manageable, they just piled up to an overwhelmingly long litany. I believe that was more of a hinderance than a help.

So how did I do?

General Goals:

Work toward getting a job or going back to school every single workday. I did that sometimes, but only really got consistant when a friend became my accountability partner and asked me what I had done each day. And thanks to that effort, I did get a job.

Post at least three topics a week. This is one goal I had totally forgotten that I had made.

Focus on doing things myself rather than watching and reading about what others are doing. I did better at this at the beginning of the year.

Exercise at least three days a week. Not lately!

Finish unfinished projects. Success on the knitting front, at least. Not with much else, though.

No new hobbies. Pretty good on that front.

Use my craft supply stash. Little bought, but little used other than yarn and fibre.

Make either bread or cakes at least every other week. Did I really resolve to do this that frequently?

Continue to decrease my consumption of processed food. Better maybe, good, no.

Continue to buy organic, free range meats and eggs. Ok, but not ideal when it comes to meat.

Continue to eat local in-season vegetables. Pretty good.

Continue to choose local options for cheese, wine, beer, etc. Pretty good.

Canning & freeze all garden produce not eaten immediately. So-so. I definitely missed canning some things I could have used. Still, I did put up a lot of tomato sauce and green tomato chutney - I ran out of jars trying to can salsa.

Declutter something every workday. Really, this was a goal I had made?

I've already posted my fiber goals on Ravelry. They are as follows:

Finish at least 12 projects. I only finished nine projects. I let myself get stuck on the frustration of the Cadence socks and didn't finish a thing for months.

Finish everything I already had a plan for before the start of 2012. Still working on one of those projects, and two are in the queue.

Use up all of the remaining commercial yarn in my stash. One sweater's worth to go.

Spin one colorway per month, until I run out of small batches, then at least 4 oz per month. Stopped at the end of the small batches. Have part of a large batch spun up.

Cold sheep yarn until I run out of commercial yarn. Success! Finally, something on the list I did well at. I bought no yarn this year.

Cold sheep fiber all year. Success!

Knit at least three items using handspun. I didn't finish a single thing using handspun, although I am knitting with it now.

Minimize pattern & book purchases. Success! I bought very few patterns, if any.

Knit every day. Sometimes I did fairly well with this, other times, not so much. I find it much easier to do now, as I knit during my lunch break at work.

Spin at least once a week. Decent in the beginning of the year, but total drop off in April or May.

Post my goals every month, with concrete plans for each month. I forgot about this especially when it comes to non-Ravelry goals.

Use fabric stash - at least one sewn item per month. Fail. Very few sewn items.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cocktail Wednesdays: Black Feather

Black Feather

Black Feather
2 oz Brandy
1 oz Dry vermouth
1/2 oz Orange Liquor
1 ds Bitters, Angostura

Stir over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon peel.

The verdict: Scott and I both liked the Black Feather. I found it surprising how forward the orange liquor was, given the proportions. Scott felt that it had some parallels to a Rusty Nail in that it is a mellowed out version of the Grand Marnier we used, mixed with cognac, which is the base spirit of Grand Marnier in the same way that scotch is the base spirit used to make Drambuie, and the blend of the two makes a rusty nail. Personally, I note the dry vermouth as well, and I am definitely enjoying the Dolin French dry vermouth Scott picked up the last time we went to Eastern Market. Trying different things with this vermouth is one of the main reasons I selected this drink. The Angostura definitely contributes a spiciness as well. I find it interesting how similar this drink is to the Metrolpole in ingredients, and yet how different it tastes; much more orangey and spicy, less floral, but also less dry. No lemon peel garnish because I simply had no lemons.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Eve Cocktail: St. Germain Cocktail

St. Germain Champagne Cocktail

Happy New Year! I snapped a photo with my iPhone of the cocktail we brought to our friend's New Year's Eve party, The St. Germain Cocktail. We chose it because it is a cocktail involving champagne, and partially because when we bought the St. Germain, the lovely people at the liquor store that we chatted with sent us home with a complimentary St. Germain pitcher as well. This pitcher has graduations for the proportions and ingredients for the cocktail marked on the side.

St. Germain Cocktail:

2 parts Champagne
2 parts Club Soda
1.5 parts Elderflower Liquor (St. Germain)

Stir and serve chilled.

The recipe I found later shows the cocktail in a highball over ice and states to garnish with a lemon twist, though this is not how we tried it. We also made it with a brut cava, which is Spanish sparkling wine, rather than true champagne.

The verdict: As you might imagine, the St. Germain added a floral note to the base sparkling wine favor. We both really liked it, as did all of our friends who tried it. I was surprised by the variety of people who said that they actually preferred it to champagne - from people who usually drink whiskey to people who prefer fruity drinks. I thought it might be too floral for some of the guys, but they all liked it.

Cocktail Wednesdays: Metropole


The next drink we tried was the Metropole, named for another New York hotel. This one was just off Times Square - before it went bankrupt in 1912 - and it had an unusual all night license, with gamblers, actors (of a certain type), and all sorts of late night seedy characters.


1.5 oz Cognac
1.5 Dry Vermouth
1 ds Orange Bitters
2 ds Peychaud's Bitters

Stir the cognac, vermouth, and bitters with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

The verdict: In the Metropole, I find the dry vermouth to be a large nod to the Martini, and the Peychaud's and cognac a nod to the Sazerac. I feel that it is somewhere between a Martini and a Manhattan in flavor. A thumbs up from both of us.