Tuesday, May 31, 2011


From the Squirrel Head Manor cocktail enthusiasts ……..we celebrate Manhattans!

“For if we don't find the next whisky bar, I tell you we must die” – From “Alabama Song” by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht

Upon being invited to Cocktail Puppy, the above song immediately sprang to mind! Here at Squirrel Head Manor we tend to sip wine, drink beer and enjoy the occasional whiskey on the rocks. Always being the adventurous types, however, we jumped at the chance to add cocktails to our repertoire of alcoholic pleasures.

OK, maybe not all that adventurous, because our first thoughts were of “old man drinks” without too many ingredients. You know, those old school cocktails that evoke responses of “Oh, I think my grandfather likes those!”

Night one we decided to make Manhattans. This was for two reasons; we like whiskey, and we had some rye and Vermouth on hand. OK, three reasons; when served straight up, they are served in the classiest of glassware, the cocktail glass; aka the Martini glass.

Traditionally, Manhattans are made with rye whiskey. We had a bottle of Old Overholt, jokingly called Old Overcoat in some circles, but Manhattans can also be made with any whiskey that you please.

We used..........

2 oz Rye
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 to 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters (or to taste)
1 or 2 Maraschino Cherries

Put ice cubes in a mixing glass, add the Rye and Vermouth and stir a few times (purists never shake a Manhattan ). Strain into chilled cocktail glasses and garnish with the cherries. For a treat, tip about a teaspoon of the cherry juice from the jar into the mixing glass before stirring.

Goes well with tapenade........

I think we'd like to buy/build a proper bar.........

Bottoms up!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Homemade Coffee Liqueur

Do you have a coffee-holic in your family?

I do. We have several Bodum French presses, 2 stove-top espresso makers and one awesome espresso machine with frother. 'Cause sometimes we like to get frothy.

Sometimes we also like to mix our coffee with our booze. We are fun like that.

Here is an easy recipe for homemade coffee liqueur, bound to satisfy the coffee-holic in your family. Serve it as an after dinner sipper or as part of a brown cow.

Homemade Coffee Liqueur
adapted from the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving
(an amazing book!)

½ cup freshly brewed espresso
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup vodka
1/3 cup dark rum
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Stir sugar into hot coffee until fully dissolved. Let cool a little. Stir in everything else. Put in a clean jar or bottle and store 4 weeks before using, shaking the jar once in a while.

Tip: try it in milk or over crushed ice.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Italian Margarita

It's been a long day. The sun is on its descent and you know what that means. It's time to sit back....take a breather and relax a moment before the call to make dinner starts pulling at you. You've dealt with the good, the bad and the ugly today. You not only deserve....but you need that... "me" time. Of course that includes a little cocktail. Let's make it special. A little something new, yet still refreshing. With enough of a kick to relieve a bit of that weight off your shoulders. Who knows...if you have enough...it just might relieve so much weight that you become light on your feet and dance the night away.

(oh...and just so you know....the amounts below are way too small. I say get shot glass thats a bit bigger than an ounce....1 1/2? 2? and pretend it's an ounce and go for it!)

1 oz amaretto
2 oz sweet and sour mix
1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz orange liquor

Combine and serve over ice.

If you wanna tone it down a bit....add 1 oz of sprite or club soda.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Free Wine App from Natalie MacLean!

New wine app from my friend, goddess of wine, Natalie MacLean!

Game-changing technology allows you to instantly scan 150,000 wines in the LCBO

A new free mobile application will change the way Ontario wine lovers find, buy and enjoy wine this summer. The Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app lets you use your smartphone camera to snap a picture of any bottle label bar code in the liquor store. With one click, you get tasting notes, scores, and food pairings.

“You’re in the LCBO wondering if you should buy the bottle with the castle on its label or the one with the fluffy squirrel,” says Natalie MacLean, the editor of Ontario’s largest wine web site at www.nataliemaclean.com. She created the tool to make buying wine easier for consumers.

“Now you just point and click to find out if that shiraz actually is a good wine to go with your pepper steak, or if the sauvignon blanc would work with your grilled veggies. No more guesswork based on castles and critters.”

No more shopping lists either since you can scan the wines right in front of you in the store. The app’s key features allow you to:

- Instantly access tasting notes, scores, prices, recipes and food pairings

- Search 150,000 wines at the LCBO and other liquor stores across the country

- Get real-time stock for every wine at the store in which you’re shopping

- Check the number of bottles in stock at nearby stores via GPS real-time inventory search

- Track your purchases in your virtual cellar with just a few clicks

- Create a wine journal with your own wine notes and pictures in the app

- Share your favourite wines and pairings on Twitter and Facebook

The new Wine Picks & Pairings app is the next generation of Natalie’s mobile app, which was selected among the top five food-and-wine apps by both Computerworld Magazine and the New York Times. It’s the only one featured on Apple’s iTunes store under App Essentials for both “Food & Wine” and “Date Night.”

Fans use Ontario’s most popular wine and food app to get more than 700,000 wine picks and food pairing suggestions a month—the number of users has grown 230% over the past year. The app, designed by Fluid Trends, bundles a suite of 10 wine apps including reviews, cellar journals, recipes, food pairings, articles, blog posts, a wine glossary, a bi-weekly newsletter, a directory of wineries around the world and excerpts from Natalie’s bestselling book Red, White and Drunk All Over.

A certified sommelier and winner of the World’s Best Wine Writer award at the World Food Media Awards, Natalie wrote and vetted all the pairings and wine reviews in the app rather than relying on computer-generated algorithms and crowd-sourced material.

Natalie’s Top 10 Well-Done Wine and BBQ Pairings:

1. Juicy Steak and Shiraz

2. Grilled Salmon and Pinot Noir

3. Seared Tuna and Gamay

4. Flame-Broiled Hamburgers and Zinfandel

5. Grilled Portabello Mushroom and Rosé

6. Herbed Chicken and Syrah

7. Lobster in Butter and Sparkling Wine

8. Grilled Veggies and Sauvignon Blanc

9. BBQ Pork Chops and Chardonnay

10. Roasted Marshmallows and Tawny Port

Download the free Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app for iPod Touch or iPhone:

For BlackBerry, visit App World:

For Droid, Nexus One, Nokia, Windows 7 and other smartphones, use the mobilized web site here:

About Natalie

Natalie MacLean is an Ontario wine journalist and author of Red, White and Drunk All Over. She connects with more than 123,000 wine and food lovers who get her free e-newsletter. Nat is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International. More bio bunk here: www.nataliemaclean.com/bio.

About Fluid Trends

Fluid Trends is an innovative provider of complete end-to-end mobile solutions that help users make sense of the latest trends in mobile technologies. They leverage the hottest distribution channels, and boost a brand’s mobile footprint by combining their industry knowledge, proven mobile development process and proprietary technology. The result: creative, high-quality, original mobile applications that suit their customers’ unique needs. To learn more about Fluid Trends, visit www.fluidtrends.com.

Connect with Nat

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nataliemaclean
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/natdecants
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/natalie-maclean/a/364/70b
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/natdecants
Newsletter: www.nataliemaclean.com/subscribe

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Peachy Sangria

Here's a little cheer for all the Moms out there. A little something to sip on, while you're hopefully relaxing, doing a lot of nothing other than basking in your day.

Peachy Sangria
1 bottle of white wine (750ml)
2 oz cointreau
4 oz peach schnapps
2 cups gingerale
1/4 cup sugar
1 TB (or to taste...the clove flavor can get strong) whole cloves put in a cheese cloth pouch or tea strainer
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, pealed and sliced
1 cup frozen peaches

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and allow to sit in the fridge a few hours. Remove the cloves and serve over ice.