Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Advil Calendar: Week 4

This is how messed up the holidays are for everyone. I have had all four weeks of my Advil Calendar - the daily holiday calendar for grownups, showcasing a fancy or obscure liquor every day - written for weeks, and still I ended up lagging behind.

Well, as an apology, let's begin with bacon.

Wednesday, December 22: Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon

It's Wednesday! Time to mix something weird! Try PDT’s Bacon-Infused Old Fashioned
for weird. I am not transcribing the instructions here. You wanna go there, you're going to have to suit up and go there yourself.

Alternatively, you could go the Golden West route, and merely pour a shot of very nice bourbon with a slice of very nice thick-cut house-smoked bacon as a swizzle. Let that bacon soak for a little while, then alternate sips of bourbon and bites of bacon.

Thursday, December 23: Corzo Reposado 100% Agave

It is getting too close to the Big Day to mess with fancy drinks. For our last Tequila Thursday together, just try The Giraffe:

grapefruit juice
2 ice cubes
Pour the Tequila into a tall glass and followed by the two ice cubes. Swirl the two around in the glass for a time (note: do not stir), and then add grapefruit juice to taste.

Friday December 24: Catdaddy Moonshine

The Glitter Dunn: moonshine and caffeine. THESE PRESENTS AIN'T GONNA WRAP THEIRSELVES DAMMIT.

1 1/4 ounces moonshine
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce Sunny D
1/2 ounce Rock Star orange energy drink
orange wedge, optional
Combine the moonshine, Cointreau, Sunny D, Rock Star and ice in a cocktail shaker.
Shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange wedge, if desired.

Saturday, December 25: Flor de Caña 4 Years Extra Rum 80 Proof

Flor de Caña is sugar cane rum from Nicaragua. We found some in the house we rented in Costa Rica this summer. Costa Rican Imperial beer is pretty good, and certainly has fantastic graphics, but we were done with it the moment we poured this sweet, smooth, complex rum into... into anything. We bought a three-pack at the duty free on the way home. One bottle broke in transit, which was sad, but made our luggage smell delicious.

So on Christmas morning, I recommend that you make orange juice for the crowd. Fresh-squeezed, what are you, some kind of a lazy homemaker? (I know you are - so am I. But we pretend otherwise on Christmas.) Dump a shot of Flor de Caña into yours. There you go. Smile and wave, girls and boys.

Smile and wave.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Advil Calendar - Week 3

Photo of the Little Italy from

Wednesday, December 15: Cynar

Weird Drink Wednesday! My favorite time of the week! This week featuring Cynar, the intense Italian liqueur with the really great label. Cynar is made from artichokes. How do they do that? I don't know. In parts of France, they dump a shot of Cynar in a demi of lager for what must be a weirdly classy boilermaker. Gonna try that sometime.

So, here's a drink recipe you won't find anywhere else. It was invented by my old colleague Martin Beck (if you've been to my house, Martin is the guy who painted the girl in the hot pink ball gown attended by the two naked children in my living room. Ah. That Martin, you say.) Martin's drink is the Beckhattan:

crushed ice or rocks
1 part Cynar
2 parts Bourbon (Wild Turkey)
dash of orange juice
garnish with orange slice
Stir. Drink. Talk about music, art, New Jersey politics, death, music, venal gallery owners, music.

Thursday, December 16: El Diamante Del Cielo Anejo Tequila

It's Tequila Thursday! Also known as Dia Del Amor, "day of love."

I'll say. Look at this drink: tequila, St-Germain, lime and hot sauce? Yeah. I am a big fan of drinks that involve condiments. Well, that's probably overstating it. I have yet to discover a palatable cocktail that is made with ketchup (there's the Red Mist, but I did specify "palatable"). Or mustard, for that matter, although I have heard of a mustard liqueur.

The chili salt is easy to make yourself - most books recommend just mixing cayenne pepper or chili powder with reg'lar old salt, but I use coarse flake salt (pickling salt or kosher salt) mixed with - well ok this sounds pretty precious - mixed with my homemade chili pepper flakes.

Ok, forget it, I am not copping to making my own chili flakes. That's ridiculous. I can't stand chicks who do shit like that. No, I buy the margarita salt at the liquor store in the little plastic rimmer pans and mix in some McCormick's chili powder. That's my story.

1 part St-Germain
1 ½ parts Reposado Tequila
¾ part Fresh Lime
2 dashes Hot Sauce
Shake and strain into chili salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Friday December 17: Hendricks Gin

Ok, cheating here. Hendricks is always in my liquor cabinet, I don't need a miniature of it. But if I didn't put it in my Advil calendar, I might not've gotten a decent Negroni all month!

The classic Negroni, which I have been drinking ever since my brother-in-law Tony introduced me to it at the Central Park Boathouse on none other than the day Bob and I got married, is equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari. The New York Times published a recipe that used Punt e Mes as the vermouth, and described the resulting drink as "so gorgeously bitter that it almost stings the tongue. Drinking it is like being slapped by an ex-lover." Cocktails inspire some of the best prose, don't you think? But terrible poetry.

I have always monkeyed with the Negroni. There are so many interesting herby things to mix with Hendricks, and it can be worth futzing those proportions - I prefer less sweet. A good starting point is the Negroni recipe on the Hendricks website (and my goodness that is a foo-foo web site, even for a liquor company):

1 part Hendricks
1 part Lillet Blanc
1 part Aperol
orange twist
Shake well, serve over ice

If you're feeling ambitious, however, try this Dickensian weirdness, adapted by Xavier Padovani, Hendrick's "brand ambassador":

HENDRICK’S HOT GIN PUNCH for 6 people “Mr Micawber’s favorite”
Three brimming teacups of Hendrick’s gin
Another three of Madeira wine
Three cloves
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Large teaspoon of cinnamon powder
Two teaspoons of brown sugar
Six large lemon and orange twists
Small slice of orange
One fresh pineapple
Four large spoons of honey
Juice of two lemons

Mix all ingredients in a pot. Warm but do not boil for 20 minutes to a half hour. While it cooks the taste will change, make it to your own taste balancing the sweet/sour balance with honey and lemon. You can also re warm the mix, sometimes the punch will get better and better as you cook it more and more. When you think it is ready, pour in a teapot and serve hot in tea cups with gingerbread on the side. [NB: THIS IS THE "BRAND AMBASSADOR'S" WORK. I would never suggest gingerbread with liquor.]

Adapted from the original 1850 recipe found in the book Drinking with Dickens (something that I'm not sure I'd want to do - for one thing, you know he'd stick you with the check), this recipe is allegedly inspired by Charles Dickens’ own gin punch recipe.

Saturday, December 18: Peppermint Schnapps

Ok, ew, I know. But you're at a party and you know it, so drink this.

Make Merry Martini
1 part Vodka
2 parts Hiram Walker® Gingerbread Liqueur
½ part Peppermint Schnapps
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Or if you really enjoyed that Zwack from last week, get some more and make the Black Christmas: a glass of peppermint schnapps with a floater of Zwack.

Sunday, December 19: Pikesville Rye

Sunday is an old-school day, and rye is an old-school drink. Pikesville Rye is named for its former point of origin - Pikesville, Maryland. Pikesville is an inburb of Baltimore, just a few exits past where I work. That distillery went out of business during Prohibition, but the name was sold to a company in Landsdowne, another Baltimore suburb, this one pretty close to where I grew up.

With a teenager's native disdain for anything local and familiar, I long assumed Pikesville Rye to be total rotgut (see above photo that pairs a shot of Pikesville with National Boh, the local piss beer). But my husband, who's not from around here, was delighted to find a whiskey named after one of the only largely Orthodox Jewish communities in Baltimore, and bought a bottle. And you know what? It's good! It's much like bourbon, but a little sweeter and smoother. Great in a Manhattan or mixed with ginger ale or ginger beer.

The Scofflaw
1 1/2 ounces rye
1 ounce dry vermouth
3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounces grenadine
2 dashes of orange bitters
Shake all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Monday, December 20: Jägermeister Liqueur

It's Monday! Do a shot! And not just any shot, do a shot of Jägermeister, one of the primal '80's college drinking cliches. Jägermeister was just your average ancient German herbal digestif until, in an unlikely feat of marketing akin to making the Kardashian sisters culturally prominent, some genius importer promoted the living hell out of it, managing to get bands with umlaut-decorated names and leather pants to brandish bottles of it on stage, and all of a sudden fraternity boys by the thousand were vomiting 56 herbs, fruits, roots, and spices into blameless pieces of shrubbery across this fair nation.

Takes you back, don't it? If straight Jägermeister is still not something you can get down, my recommendation for a Jägermeister mixed drink this holiday season is the Cannibalized Christian:

3/4 oz. Amaretto
3/4 oz. Jack Daniel's Whiskey
3/4 oz. Jägermeister
Cherry Coke
Combine in a large cocktail glass. Stir and serve.

My prom date's former girlfriend Cathy, who lives in Switzerland nowadays (and yes my network is that wide), suggests Jaeger Tea as a warm happy winter drink. Brew black tea, add some Jägermeister (or actually, any rum or schnapps or red wine or...) and maybe some sugar or fresh orange juice. Wander blissfully through the crystalline air of an Alpine ski town.

Tuesday, December 21: Pusser's "Admiral Lord Nelson" British Navy Rum

Nutmeg makes this drink vaguely seasonal, while the tropical juices and coconut remind you of where you wish you were (the Bahamas) instead of freezing your butt off in Baltimore:

Pusser's Painkiller
4 parts fresh pineapple juice
1 part cream of coconut
1 part fresh orange juice
2, 3, or 4 parts Pusser's Navy Rum
touch of fresh grated nutmeg

Stir the juices and coconut in a shaker, then add the rum. Stir, do not shake. Fill a tumbler or goblet half full of ice. Pour the mixture over the ice, then grate a touch of fresh nutmeg over the top.

You're in the home stretch, gentle boys and girls! A slight buzz will get you through the remainder of this month - and then you can look forward to some quality time with your shoes off, playing the kids' new video games, getting quietly hammered in the comfort of your own rec room. And then there will be New Years.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Advil Calendar - Week 2

If you missed my last post - it was yesterday, what's your problem - it was about an EXCELLENT idea my neighbor's kid had. When said kid realized her mom didn't have an Advent calendar, she was sad. When mom explained that she doesn't have an Advent calendar because she doesn't care for the sucky waxy milk chocolate treats inside, this clever little girl suggested an Advent calendar filled with... liquor! Now that's my kind of holiday tradition. And because my raised-by-atheists 7-year-old son thinks the thing is called an "Advil calendar"... mine is too.

Week Two!

Wednesday, December 8: La Fée Parisienne Absinthe

Welcome to Weird Drink Wednesday! And what's weirder than absinthe, aka the green fairy, the least palatable liquor I know?

Fox Poison
3 parts chartreuse
3 parts absinthe
1 part green curacao
Build in highball glass. Stir and fill up with ice cold milk. Marvel at its creepy cloudiness, then throw it out and make...

London Fog
1 1/2 oz. Gin
1/4 oz. Absinthe
Frappe in a highball glass.

Thursday, December 9: Porfidio Anejo

Tequila Thursday! Shake your butt! This is the closest I will come to a chocolate cocktail. It is black as my black Scroogeriffic heart, and strong, and strange.

Ashes to Ashes

1 1/2 oz. tequila
1/2 oz. Pedro Ximenez Sherry
1 oz. Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Sweetened Cocoa Mix
1/4 oz. Agave Nectar
1 pinch Ground Cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass, fill with ice, cover and shake well for 10 seconds. Strain up into a cocktail glass. Garnish with cinnamon dust.

Friday December 10: Johnny Drum Green Label Bourbon

Friday is a good day to make like a Mad Man and drink a Manhattan .
sweet Vermouth
Take 1 part bourbon and 1 part sweet Vermouth; stir. Add a dash of bitters and ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Saturday, December 11: Roberto Cavalli Vodka

I read this thing about Cavalli and his family in W this past month, and the article sure made him seem like a tiny overtanned Italian id monster, a big granddaddy baby who buys his granddaughter marabou-trimmed plastic Barbie mules and demands everyone's attention ALL THE TIME. A real Saturday night kind of guy. Look at him up there, with his models and his cigar. He's like Christmas with a job. This recipe, needless to say, is from the vodka's website. Note ALL CAPS. DRINK IN MY SPICY SUGARY OVERINDULGENCE, DARLING.

7.5 ml CAMPARI

Sunday, December 12: Zwack Unicum Liqueur 80 Proof

We actually own a bottle of Zwack (it's Hungarian!), and my husband invents all kinds of drinks to mix it into. His Zwackhattan was really nice. But then again, my husband also mixed Pastis with eggnog one afternoon, so I'll give you a perfect Sunday recipe from the experts.

Bloody Hun
1 1/2 tablespoons Zwack
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Tabasco sauce to taste
Worcestershire sauce to taste
1 teaspoon horseradish
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a cocktail shaker, combine Zwack, tomato juice, lemon juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and one cup of ice cubes. Shake mixture vigorously then strain it into an ice cube filled glass rimmed in salt and lemon juice. Garnish with a carrot stick and serve.

Monday, December 13: Lagavulin 16 year

It's Monday, drink a glass of Scotch. If you need to mix it (not the Lagavulin, you fool! Some other, crappier Scotch!), try Le Pere-Bis:

1½ parts Scotch
½ part St-Germain
1 bar spoon Honey
4 parts Hot Chamomile Tea
Add all ingredients to a Hot Toddy glass. Garnish with a clove-studded lemon wedge.

Tuesday, December 14: Sailor Jerry

I've never tried this Sailor Jerry rum. Looks a little gimmicky to me, named as it is after, and relentlessly identified with, "a prominent American tattoo artist". (Please. I have four tattoos, good-sized ones, and even I wouldn't call any tattoo artist 'prominent'.) But that's what the Advent season is for, is it not - to try new boozes. What's that? This season has other connotations? Huh. I should look into that.

There's a new book out about one of these old tattoo guys. Titled Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade, we have it in the library, even though some of the photographs inside are pretty raunchy. My friend Mrs. Rabbit checked it out - she had read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and was on kind of a nonfiction kick. Her allergies were giving her hell and her nose was stopped up, so it was up to me to tell her that the book, even though it was brand-spankin new, reeked of cigarette smoke.

This drink, though, probably smells quite nice. And it's so seasonal! I don't know what's come over me.

Apple-Ginger Jerry
1 ½ parts Sailor Jerry Rum
2 ½ parts apple juice
½ part fresh lime juice
ginger ale
Shake all but ginger ale and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Top with ginger ale and garnish with an apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Are we all caught up now? Watch for Week 3 of the Advil Calendar on December 12.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Advent for grownups - Week 1

I cannot take credit for this idea. This idea was suggested by my friend Chris's little girl, Wendy Darling (she is surrounded by feral boys, including my two boys, so she is Wendy Darling).

Chris was setting up the Advent calendars she'd bought for her three kids, milk chocolate-stocked jobbies from Trader Joe's (um, the calendars, not the kids), when sweet Wendy asked, "But Mom, where's your Advent calendar?" Chris replied that she wasn't really interested in grainy milk chocolate tablets in the shape of snowmen and whatevers, and so she didn't need an Advent calendar.

But Wendy still wanted her mother to share this aspect of the season. She said, "Well you could have a grownup version."

Chris put on the thinking face. "What would a grownup Advent calendar be like, do you think?"

"Well instead of chocolate, your Advent calendar could have different kinds of liquor in it!" And Chris's face turned from the thinking face to the "that's just great, my kid thinks all I do is drink" face. Which morphed into the "wonder what she tells the teacher about us" face.

Chris is still doing better than I am - I forgot about Advent calendars entirely, and now it turns out they make LEGO ones. My seven-year-old was outraged. "Why don't we have an Advil calendar?!"

And given my traditional Scroogey humbugginess, "Advil calendar" struck my fancy. Wouldn't you like an Advil calendar, filled with booze? I know I would.

So here is what you do.

Find a printer's type drawer, one with at least 24 little sections. You could paint it all Christmasy, or decoupage liquor labels to it. There could be glitter.

Tack pieces of twine across the width of the drawer. You want the twine to make little guardrails so things don't fall out of the drawer sections. You can use twine in a festive color if you want.

Go to the liquor store and buy 24 miniatures. Mission Liquors online has a good selection. Take this opportunity to sample oddities and premium brands, not the kind of things you tend to have around for your average laundry day binge.

Put the minis in the drawer sections. Drink one a day, using the recipes below, until it's Christmas Day or you are admitted to a 28-day program, whichever comes first.

Now obviously, we are starting late. Unlike with most prescriptions, you are free to double up (or even triple up) your daily doses until you're on today's date. Or stick with the one a day plan, and let Advent stretch well past the 25th. (My 365-day calendar is going to take a bit more work)

Here we go!

Wednesday, December 1: Absolut Citron 80 Proof

Let's start this project on a festive note, with the Champagne Cosmo:
1 Part Cranberry Juice
Add ABSOLUT Citron and cranberry juice into a champagne glass. Top up with champagne.

We introduced my mom, who is not much of a drinker, to the Cosmopolitan on the weekend she and my dad were in New York City for Bob and my wedding. We took them to dinner at the Boathouse in Central Park to celebrate the fact that they'd both retired that year. Bob had a Manhattan, I had my Negroni and my brother had a Cosmo, which Mom sampled and really liked. Later, when her colleagues took her out for the same reason, she decided that for once in her life she was going to stray from the gin & tonic path and order that pretty pink thing she'd had in New York.

Reaching for the name, the word she came up with was "Continental." Close, but a totally different - totally gross - cocktail. And now she'll never try ordering anything different again. So it is incumbent upon me to mix her drinks whenever I get the chance.

Thursday, December 2: Cabana Cachaca Brazilian Rum

On the second day of xmas we try to stay classy with the Pearl Button. My god this looks good!
8 to 10 ice cubes
1/4 cup (2 ounces) cachaca
4 1/2 teaspoons (3/4 ounce) Lillet Blanc
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup (4 ounces) San Pellegrino Limonata
1/2 grapefruit wheel
Fill 10-ounce Collins or highball glass with ice. Add cachaca, Lillet Blanc, and lime juice. Top with San Pellegrino Limonata and stir briefly. Place 1/2 grapefruit wheel in drink and serve immediately.

Friday December 3: St Germain Elderflower Liqueur

I only watch broacast TV one night a year. Unless it's an Olympic year. Also, sometimes we watch Saturday Night Live. We don't have cable, so I'm not missing much. We borrow Weeds and Dexter and True Blood and Glee from the library so that we're not too culturally illiterate. So anyway, I watch the Oscars every year. Yes, I do. Don't judge. You watch real estate shows, for pete's sake! God.

Last year, I invented a slightly bitter, gorgeous cocktail to go with my night of glamour. I was channeling Glenn Close, I think (nominated 5 times, won zero). I called it the Nightmare in Pink, after one of John D. MacDonald's pulpy, noirish Travis McGee novels. They all had titles with colors in them, which I thought was really neat when I was in junior high and my dad would bring them home after reading them on long plane trips.

1 ½ part Gin
¾ part St-Germain
splash Campari
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a curl of orange peel.

There's a green version, called The Gypsy, which I didn't make up. It's also a little bitter, though less gorgeous. I would drink that watching the Grammys - nominated for seven Grammy awards, Stevie Nicks hasn't won one since Rumours was Best Album in 1977.

1½ parts Gin
¾ part St-Germain
½ part Green Chartreuse
½ part Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thinly sliced lime wheel.

Saturday, December 4: Stolichnaya Elit Ultra Luxury Russian Vodka

"I think I'll call it a Vesper."
"Because of the bitter aftertaste?"
"No, because once you've tasted it, that's all you want to drink."
Pretend you're not way behind on your Christmas shopping, slot Casino Royale into the DVD player, and drink this. It's the last chance you'll get to have a quiet, inebriated night to yourself before all holiday hell breaks loose.

The Vesper
1 part Stoli®
3 parts gin
1/2 part Lillet Blanc
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Sunday, December 5: Canton Ginger & Cognac Liqueur

I believe in this variation of a Dark & Stormy, with the ginger liqueur in addition to the ginger beer (Reed's is good, Barritts is better).

Darker and Stormier
ginger beer
1oz Domaine de Canton
1oz Flor de Cana Black Label Rum (or another dark aged rum)
splash of fresh lime juice
Fill a collins or high-ball glass with ice. Fill 1/2 of the way with ginger beer. Add Domaine de Canton, rum and fresh lime juice. Garnish with a lime.

Monday, December 6: Cabana Boy Wild Cherry Rum

What you don't know (maybe you do) is that Your Neighborhood Librarian goes out and whoops it up with her girlfriends Monday nights. Well. Your Neighborhood Librarian sits around with her girlfriends and bitches about her kids on Monday nights. So that's why Monday on the Advil calendar stands for shots and Scotch, and today, something called Cabana Boy Something Something.

Wow. Ok. I just looked at this one a little more closely. We're not going to drink this.

Instead... find a miniature of Cold River American Potato Vodka (it's gluten free!) and celebrate Hanukkah, drinkie style! Jews! You know I love 'em!

Hanukkah Gelt Martini

2 parts potato vodka
1 part Goldschlager

Combine in a shaker with ice, mix gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tuesday, December 7: Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Ok there is NO reason to mix this very fine Bourbon with ANYTHING, but I am going to take this opportunity to throw in an eggnog recipe. It's December 7, you should have been drinking eggnog for a week or so now.

Over the years, my father, and later I, have been known to make eggnog from scratch for fancy occasions. We used our extremely classy neighbor's recipe. About as old as Jesus since the day I was born, Thelma had reportedly been a D.C. debutante as a girl and a famous beauty. She was definitely a very refined cook - made sugar cookies so thin you could read the newspaper through them. So we were very pious about her eggnog recipe.

One year my dad couldn't find Thelma's recipe. Darnit. So he used the one in Joy of Cooking. Guess what? It was exactly the same recipe. Either Irma Rombauer had ripped off Lady Thelma, or Thelma had been passing off the Joy recipe as her own for decades!

1 liter Maker's Mark bourbon
1 quart milk
1 quart heavy cream
2 dozen eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
Garnish: nutmeg

Separate eggs and beat yolks until creamy. Whip sugar into yolks. Beat whites until they stand in peaks, adding 1/2 cup additional sugar, if desired. Beat yolks and bourbon together. Add whites, beat cream. And add cream and milk to mixture. Add nutmeg to taste and garnish each cup with nutmeg.

Stay tuned - Week 2 is coming tomorrow!