Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mad Men Cocktail Culture App

I would have been a much better, and friendlier, employee - if we were able to open a bottle of scotch in the morning and sip all day - stopping only for meetings and the occasional nap on the couch.
Seems I was born too late for anything good. Of course, they didn't have Google back then. We all have our crosses to bear.
The good people (do we know they are good? well, we know they are fun!) at AMC's Mad Men have come up with a handy-dandy iphone app that lets you whip up cocktails in true 1960s style. Now if only I had an iphone...

from AMC:
Think you can make an Old Fashioned as good as Don Draper can (or a Tom Collins as deftly as daughter Sally)? AMC's Mad Men Cocktail Culture game challenges your skills at making popular cocktails of the '60s.
How much vodka do you pour in a Gimlet? Do you shake or stir a Martini? What glass do you use for a Blue Hawaiian? Get everything right, and Roger Sterling just may just invite you to his next party!
Once you've made your virtual cocktail, you can drink it yourself and also share your results with a friend. Just for fun or when getting ready for the next episode of Mad Men, this app lets you master the art of cocktail making -- in Mad Men style.

FEATURES
  • 1 POPULAR VODKA COCKTAIL TO PREPARE FOR FREE.
  • 21 drink cocktail guide for FREE.
  • 10 additional cocktails to prepare with PURCHASE.
  • Mad Men inspired feedback on your bartending skills.
  • The ability to share your cocktail results via Facebook Connect.
  • Access to the Mad Men broadcast schedule and Mad Men on the iTunes store.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Frozen Mango Margarita

The cooler nights are reminding this Canadian gal that summer will, in fact, end at some point. Oh, I know, there are plenty of hot days left this year, but autumn lurks around the corner and cold toes are on the horizon.
Better keep those summer drinks coming until I need a sweater!
From the archives of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, Frozen Mango Margarita - enjoy!

Frozen Mango Margarita
2 cups frozen mango pieces
3 oz tequila blanco
Juice of 1 large lime
Simple syrup or agave nectar to taste

Blend all together in a blender until smooth. Garnish with lime wheel.
Makes two polite sized drinks.. or one me-sized drink.

But there's booze in the blender
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on..
Salud!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cool as a Cucumber

From Living in the Kitchen with Puppies:

It's summertime, and the living is easy. Ok, the living might not be easy.. but produce is plentiful and this weekend I am spotlighting the humble cucumber.
By this time of year they are cheap and cheerful and we buy them in bulk. Buy the English variety that have the plastic sleeves and are not waxed, then you can eat the peel. Better yet, find a friend or local organic farmer who has a bumper crop.
Cucumbers are great to eat in the summer or with spicy foods, they are cooling and their high water content keeps you hydrated. According to NutritionData.com, they are also a good source of Vitamin A, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium.
Here is a cocktail(!) to feature this fabulous fruit. You thought they were a vegetable? They are biologically a fruit, just like the tomato.


Cucumber Cooler
Saveur Magazine, July 2009

Ingredients
1 2" piece cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 1 additional slice for garnish
1⁄8 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 1⁄2 oz. vodka
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup

Directions
In a cocktail shaker, combine the cucumber slices, thyme, and 1⁄4 cup crushed ice. Using a muddler, crush ingredients until slushy. Add more ice, vodka, and simple syrup. Cover, shake vigorously to combine, and pour contents into a glass garnished with a slice of cucumber.
*This is a strong drink, I like it topped with soda water

Monday, August 23, 2010

Deb's Limoncello Champagne Cocktails with Mint: Sweet, Tangy & Sparkling

From Kahakai Kitchen:

I love Limoncello, Mojitos and the occasional Lemon Drop, so when I saw this recipe for Limoncello Champagne Cocktails with Mint in Bon Appétit, it seemed like a great combination of all three drinks and the perfect refreshing cocktail.



The recipe can be found in the May 2010 Bon Appétit magazine & online at Epicurious here.


Limoncello Champagne Cocktails with Mint
Bon Appétit, May 2010
(Makes 2 Servings)

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup limoncello
2 tablespoons sugar plus additional for dipping Champagne flutes
Lemon peel strips from 1 lemon
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon wedge
1 cup (about) chilled Champagne or sparkling wine

Place mint, limoncello, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon strips in blender; blend until mint is finely chopped (lemon peel will be coarsely chopped), 10 seconds. Strain into small cup; discard solids.

Run lemon wedge around rim of 2 Champagne flutes. Dip rims into sugar. Divide limoncello mixture and lemon juice between flutes. Top with Champagne.


Notes/Results: Refreshing, lightly sweet and a little tangy, this is a fun and sparkling cocktail to enjoy in the warmer weather. I used a teaspoon of agave in place of the sugar, prosecco for the sparkle, and some mint-flecked mojito glass rimming sugar I had sitting around the pantry to coat the rims of the flutes. This is a great little drink and I could easily see making up a big batch of the limoncello-mint mixture and lemon juice in a big pitcher, grabbing a couple of bottles of Champagne or sparkling wine, and serving it at a party. I will make this one again.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Muddling - Blueberry Bracer

It's time to get your muddle on! Summer is perfect for muddled cocktails as the mint by now has taken over the garden and ripe fruit is delicious and plentiful. To muddle a drink, put your herbs or fruit, or whatever the recipe calls for, in the bottom of a sturdy glass or cocktail shaker. Stomp and grind with a muddler (looks like a small baseball bat). I use a PUG muddler, just make sure yours is long enough that your fingers are well away from the rim of the glass or shaker - you don't need to add mashed fingers to you list of woes. Although that would give you more cause to drink... your call. You can also use a wooden spoon for a bit - but you will be much happier and more efficient with an actual muddler of some sort.
Then add your booze, juice and ice and shake away. Swear only a little bit as the mashed pulp gets in the way of your perfect pour as you strain, and you get a little splashy-splashy. Lick fingers (your own) when nobody is looking. Serve. Repeat.

Blueberry Bracer
the Cocktail Puppy

1 oz blueberry liqueur or blueberry schnapps
2 oz vodka
handful of mint leaves
handful of blueberries, plus a few extra for garnish
squeeze of lemon, plus some for garnish

Muddle blueberries and mint in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, add vodka, blueberry liqueur or schnapps, ice, and a squeeze of lemon. Shake and dance. Strain into a glass over ice and garnish with fresh blueberries and lemon.
Top with soda water if desired.

Mmm, muddled goodness..

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Whiskey Sour

The world just wasn't made for left-handed people. I think it is high time we exercised our rights (no pun intended) and demanded equal treatment. In the tool department anyway. Have you ever tried using one of those lemon zesters with the little holes on top and the bigger hole on the side.. with your wrong hand? It is not easy my friends, but I sacrifice for my art. And for you. You're welcome.
I won't even get into the fact that all the computers in the libraries have the mousies permanently attached to the right-hand side of the keyboard and that ladles pour the wrong way... it is enough to drive you to drink.
Whiskey that is, with lemon juice and simple syrup. This is a great way to use the slightly lesser quality whiskey that your Uncle Hugo left at your place over the holidays. Save the good stuff for straight sipping. This cocktail will help you forget that the world is unfair. Especially for lefties. Just sayin'.

Whiskey Sour
made with love for IHCC Can I Have a Sip?
adapted from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything
makes 4

One of the precursors of today's frozen, blended drinks, this can be made in a blender but is still best shaken. You can use any liquor, from vodka to bourbon, to make a sour.

¾ cup (6 oz) whiskey, any kind (or other spirits)
1 tbsp superfine sugar or 2 tbsp simple syrup, or to taste
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twists for garnish

1. Combine the whiskey, sugar, and lemon juice in a shaker; add ice and shake.

2. Strain into cocktail glasses or pour with ice into cocktail glasses to serve on the rocks, garnish, and serve.

Pretty lemon zest, thrown in all Jackson Pollock like.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Honey, I'm Home! A Pick-me-up Cocktail

My husband has been typecast. For each holiday he receives coffee and coffee-related gifts. This delights him to no end as he is serious about coffee. Getting up each morning to grind the dark, glossy beans for espresso, he then calibrates each cup to dark, steamy perfection. He has even flirted with the idea of roasting his own beans, but hasn't gone that far yet.
What he does have now is a groovy ice cube tray that is shaped like coffee beans. A present from our daughter, these are perfect for coffee-based cocktails as when they melt they add more great espresso flavour, instead of water. Perfect! You can, of course, freeze coffee or espresso in any ice cube trays, but the bean shaped ones are cool, no?
So, in honour of his groovy new cubes, I made my hard-working commuter an espresso cocktail for when he got home. I am very June Cleaver that way.

Pick-me-up Cocktail

2 oz espresso vodka (I used Three Olives brand Triple Shot Espresso)
1 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz white crème de cacao

Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass with a maraschino cherry on the bottom. Add 2 espresso ice cubes.
Watch as his stress fades away and he slowly wakes up.
Bask in the accolades.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Lovely Pear. Cooler.

Pear nectar adds a deep and unusual flavour to cocktails, here it is brightened up with lemon and soda water to make a sparkling and delicious concoction perfect for balcony sipping or to keep you going on vacuuming day. What, you don't drink when you vacuum? Give this drink a try and house-keeping won't seem like such a chore.

A Lovely Pear Cooler

Per drink:
1 oz pear liqueur or Asian pear liqueur
1 oz vodka
Mini bottle of pear nectar - 125mls.
Squeeze of lemon

Shake with ice and pour into a tall glass over ice. Top with soda water and garnish with lemon or pear.

What's your favourite house-cleaning tipple?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stocking the Bar - A Touch of Sweetness.

Many cocktails benefit from a touch of sweetness. Added sugar can take the edge off of sour citrus or strong flavours and turns your concoction into a sweet treat.
But you can't add regular sugar to your cold drinks, it won't dissolve properly and you will be left with a grainy drink. Not that I wouldn't drink it if you offered it to me... but there are ways around it so that you can have a smooth, sweet sensation.

Superfine sugar, also sold as fructose, is finer than regular sugar and can dissolve into cold drinks easily - you can buy it or make it yourself in small batches in your blender. Only a little at a time, you don't want to stress out your motor or miss any. Keep a jar of superfine sugar in your bar and a measuring spoon.

Another great way to add sweetness to your cocktails is with simple syrup. It is easy to make at home - use one cup of white sugar and one cup of water, simmer until dissolved, cool and keep in a sealed jar in the bar fridge.
But why stop there? If you can make simple syrup, you can make infused simple syrups. Throw some cinnamon sticks in there, or cinnamon hearts, or sliced fresh ginger, cardamom pods or orange peels. Let the sugar and water and added flavouring agent of choice simmer on low together for 10 minutes and let cool. Then strain and keep in a sealed jar in your bar fridge.
While plain simple syrup will last for months, flavoured ones should be used up within a couple of weeks. A spoonful of your simple syrup, plain or infused, will add a lovely soft sweetness to your drinks.

You can also use sugars of all sorts, including coloured sugars, for rimming the glass of your sweet cocktail. Just wet the rim with water, citrus, or even some of the alcohol that you are using in the cocktail, and dip it into the sugar of choice. Pretty!

Other sweeteners can be used, like maple syrup or agave nectar. Honey may be a bit of a challenge as it tends to harden in contact with ice - save it for the hot drinks or use it as a garnish.

And speaking of garnishes - why not use a sweet stir stick? Coloured sugar crystal sticks are fun and pretty...
Or, if you are lucky, you might find some natural sugar cane stir sticks.

And why not a lolly-pop in your cocktail? This fun addition was suggested by my friend Kim, who is always up for a sweet concoction!

♪ ♫ Sugar, ah honey honey
You are my candy girl ♪ ♫

I hope I have helped make your bar and your life a little sweeter today. Cheers!

Photos from Google Images

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kiwi-tini - get your vitamin C with your cocktail!

I know, even though you are a bit of a lush, you want to make sure that you are getting all your vitamins and minerals. No fear, you can go ahead and include them in you liquid diet by means of your blender.

The kiwi fruit is low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K. (source - NutritionData.com)

Well heavens! That sounds perfectly healthy and delicious. Kiwis are naturally sweet and lend themselves well to blender cocktails. It IS easy being green, when you have a big basket of kiwis that all happen to have ripened at the same time.

Kiwi-tini
by the Cocktail Puppy
makes 2 cocktails

4 kiwis, peeled (plus one for garnish)
3 oz vodka
1 oz sour lemon liqueur
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1 cup ice

Blitz all the ingredients in a blender until you have a nice, thick concoction with icy bits floating freely in it. Pour into two cocktail glasses of your choice and garnish with a wheel of kiwi.
Crunch happily on little tiny kiwi seeds as you feel yourself getting healthier already. ♥


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stocking the Bar - Glassware

In which I tell you to buy twelve different kinds of glasses...
Now that you are stocking your bar you will want to make sure you have all the classic glasses. Sure, you could make a martini in a wine glass or beer stein but the experience just won't be the same. Having the right glass for the drink makes all the difference and will make you feel like a pro. There are, of course, infinite variations on each glass type, but start out with some clear ones with classic lines in the beginning. You can always add colour and zany shapes later.
Look for sales and even garage sales. Home bar-tending needn't be the prerogative of the wealthy.
Beer. I like a tall glass like this one as it can double for icy sodas for the designated driver or even a milkshake. Steins and classic beer mugs are also lots of fun.

Nothing is as elegant as a classic champagne glass. Tall and thin, it keeps those precious bubbles from vanishing too quickly.

You will want some tall, straight-sided glasses for mixed drinks like a collins, they are also great for a layered or graduated drink as the straight sides showcase the colours beautifully.

A cosmo glass is the little cousin to the martini glass. Cute and dainty, you can use it for all kinds of cocktails.

The coupe was invented for ladies, so as to let those precious bubbles mentioned above evaporate quickly. This was back when ladies didn't burp. I am glad I missed those days, but the glass is lovely and makes a nice alternative to the classic martini or margarita.

A hurricane glass is perfect for your fruity, showcase cocktails. It is built for showing off colour and adornments. Fruit, picks, straws... you name it. The more the merrier for this fun glass.

Of course you need to have a good supply of wine glasses. Red (big bowl for swirling and sniffing), white (smaller bowl for concentrating the aromas) and stemless (for fun).

The margarita is the standard glass for the... margarita! Look for a strong rim, as you will be rimming your margarita glasses in salts and sugars and all sorts of interesting garnish.

The martini glass became an iconic glass as of late and lends itself to many cocktails beyond the confines of the classic martinis.

The rocks glass is a no-nonsense type of glassware. Sturdy and heavy on the bottom, it is for straight-up and on-the-rocks types of drinks.

The brandy snifter is another elegant vessel, you just feel like a philosopher when you hold it, don't you? Of course you have them for brandy, but they can also be used for lovely brandy-based cocktails.

And shooters. Lots of fun on the side of a drink or in-between rounds. They can even double up as measuring cups if you know what the volume is. I like to drop a shooter into a beer once in a while, so make sure your glassware is sturdy enough for such shenanigans.

Now that you have the proper glassware, there is no end to the wonderful drinks you can create.

Next in the Stocking the Bar series - Tools and Accessories.