Oh, the poor, poor Pope. Little did he know that I was having the whole book club over the day after he announced that condom use was ‘justifiable’ in ‘some cases’. Like to prevent AIDS . Or for male prostitutes who need to ‘protect themselves’.
“The Pope is so full of shit!” one of my fellow book-clubbers exclaimed as we talked about how he had basically continued the Vatican’s long standing tradition of moral relativism or the ‘double effect’. We found it pretty damn curious (but weren’t too surprised) that the Pope conveniently left women out of his ‘progressive’ declaration on ‘justifiable’ condom usage. To us, the implication was loud and clear: men could protect themselves from HIV and AIDS, but women? Not so much. We then cackled about how hilarious it would be to start a business called ‘The Pope’s Condom Company’, and then speculated about how long it would take to go out of business.
So that’s your typical scene from the book club. We have been ‘together’ since the days when Dr. Phil had a regular Tuesday spot on Oprah; a fact I only remember because our ‘meetings’ were on Tuesdays and being at home with babies and toddlers meant that we were usually watching. AND because the first order of business at Tuesday ‘meetings’ was to debrief Dr. Phil’s advice de jour. Most of the time, we thought that Dr. Phil was full of shit too.
Our book club came together when we were all in various stages of having babies, or spending long days at home with little ones. While it was books and a love of reading that got us together, what we craved the most was a community of women who shared a common vision of a ‘better book club’ in which we didn’t have to:
spend the whole afternoon cleaning the house to a suitable hosting standard (Sarah – the clean freak, excepted),
bake or cook something from scratch to serve,
tolerate too many choices from the ‘Oprah’ book club, or,
have to finish the whole book to be able to come to a ‘meeting’.
So as a sleep-deprived bunch with strong opinions sharing nachos and pitchers at Pickwick’s Pub (in New Edinburgh) we went from nursing bras to the Sex and the City finale (um….’John’?! Really?). Then taking a (longer than planned) hiatus and reconvening during super important life and cultural events like: another wedding, another baby, clothing swaps, and (of course) the Sex and the City movie.
For Sex and the City Part 1, we dressed up, put on our heels and had a pre-movie martini at a fancy cocktail bar. For Part 2, we weren’t able to organize ourselves to see it in the theatre (it was in the theatre for such a short time), but rented the ‘man cave’ out (the room in Jen’s house with the good television) and stocked up on the junk food. AND - the [Blueberry] Cosmopolitans – straight out of the LCBO festive cocktail guide (remember my plan? Better than Julie and Julia!).
The Mix – Blueberry Cosmo
1 oz vodka
0.5 oz Grand Marnier (yum!)
0.125 oz lemon juice (that’s 1/8 oz)
4 oz blueberry juice
Pour contents into a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with frozen blueberries and a mint sprig (if you’ve got one – I didn’t).
This cocktail is an easy to drink variation on the traditional Cosmopolitan. You don’t have to sip it. All of the book-clubbers loved it – so it is a definite crowd pleaser! In true Sex and the City fashion, I would for sure get the hunky guy you spend your life with to buy these for you at the cocktail bar. Especially if you’d like him to ‘take advantage’ of you later. But that’s a whole other blog post.
The last thing I’ll say about this drink is that I couldn’t help but to keep comparing it to the practically perfect regular cosmopolitan that is nice and crisp all on its own. In my opinion, I found the liquor to be drowning a bit in the juice. If mixing it up just for me, I would probably opt for less blueberry juice – but go for more when you have a crowd.
You probably won’t be surprised that after tackling such topics as ‘the angry yoga women’, ‘the little porn-head’ and the Pope – we didn’t even get to the movie. It took us until 1:45 am to eat, drink and talk ourselves out…wishing the rest of the weekend was about egg-white omelettes, facials and shoe shopping. Sigh. Only in the movies.
Epilogue (Can a blog have an ‘epilogue’? Can you have an ‘epilogue’ without a ‘prologue’?): You will be horrified to know that you can buy Cosmopolitan-flavoured popcorn at Blockbuster, which is displayed prominently with the Sex and the City 2 DVD’s. For a fleeting moment I thought about bringing it home to do the ‘Twinkie experiment’, but decided that my money would be better spent on Nibs and popcorn.
I couldn’t agree more with Beppi on this one. Many holiday cocktails are gimmicky and really too sweet! I don’t have to try this one out to know that it’s going to be good. I plan to serve it at an upcoming work holiday party chez moi. The other bonus is that you can substitute the Prosecco with sparkling grape juice or some other sparkler for the preggos in your group - you know who you are : )
When I first started this blog I worried that one day my flask of ideas would run dry. I worried that I would run out of cocktail lore after something like five posts. I fretted about making each post as good as the last, while at the same time protecting myself from turning the blog and the blog updating into a chore. So far, this hasn’t happened. If anything it has been the opposite, especially after this past weekend where I found my flask overflowing with ideas, without the time to sit down and blog about it.
Yup, right from Thursday through to Sunday there was so much going on that I wanted to write and tell you about. So now that it’s practically Tuesday, the best I can do is a weekend mop up…AND another review of an LCBO festive cocktail. Here is what I can recommend from the weekend:
· Rent ‘The Trotsky’ – the Jock and I saw this on Thursday night at our International Movie Club (I know, really). In short: a 17 year old Montrealer, convinced that he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky, tries to unionize his father’s factory and then goes on to fight fascism at the local (public) high school. Funny. Smart. Entertaining. Something upbeat for this time of year
· Go to the LCBO – it probably doesn’t surprise you to know that I take refuge at the LCBO from time to time. And this Saturday, depressed about (already) being tragically behind in Christmas shopping, I went to the big one on Rideau St (a type of sanctuary, of sorts), just to browse and found a TON of gift ideas there! I don’t work for the LCBO. Promise. Just wanted to encourage you all to think outside the box (of chocolates) in terms of gift giving.
· Convene your book club – before the season gets out of control crazy get a group of awesome women together to have a few laughs, and to try out some new cocktails. But make sure it’s a group of women who won’t care if your house is clean, or that you didn’t bake carrot cake from scratch or that your children are a bit crazy/out of control/hopped up on sugar. Stay tuned for a full post on ‘Overheard at the Book Club Meeting’. Oh, and – I do bartend for book clubs (even though I am tragically underqualified).
· Try blogging when you are a little tipsy or outright drunk – a fan of the blog thought that this would be a hilarious experiment. If the girl with the flask did her random musings with one martini for breakfast too many. Consider this your warning.
· Try a new cocktail - a couple of posts ago, I set out my plan to review the LCBO Festive Cocktails (remember? Better than Julie and Julia!). I did two at my book club meeting (coming later) but before then, I managed to squeeze in the ‘Empire Martini’.
The Mix: Empire Martini
1.5 oz vodka
1 oz apple cider
0.5 oz maple syrup
Rim the top of a martini glass using a lemon wedge, dip in cinnamon sugar. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, squeeze the lemon wedge and drop into the shaker. Add the vodka, apple cider and maple syrup. Shake and strain into a martini glass.
I mixed this up for me and the Jock one night after supper. The great news about this martini was that I didn’t have to buy a thing – we had all ingredients on hand (you will probably remember that the main feature of my review was to tell you if it’s worth investing in a bottle of booze you don’t have). The other great news is that this cocktail is practically perfect. There wasn’t any ratio I would change or play around with. Oh and – everyone loves the rimming. OMG. I did just write that.
OK – you are going to LOVE the next few weeks here at martinis for breakfast as I am doing you a HUGE favour. It’s going to be like Julie and Julia – only better. (Okay, okay. Who’s kidding who.)
Everyone will remember the story of Julie Powell, a New York writer who decides she will cook every single recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about her adventures in the French culinary arts. As I am a bit clumsy, and not so swift in the kitchen, I would not dare embark on such a project without the careful supervision of a hot French epicurean, er, I mean highly skilled culinary professional. Hell, let’s face it: after two recipes, I would just let him do all the cooking and take over the bar in order to keep the martinis coming. Nope, my project is much more modest than Julie’s.
If you have been to the LCBO lately, you will know that they are full swing into holiday mode. In addition to the shelves stocked with gifts they are going full tilt with their holiday promo items…including their little book of festive cocktails with about fifteen or so cocktails to help you survive celebrate the holiday season. In the spirit of Julie and Julia, I thought that a totally doable project (and practically my job) would be to try out and report on as many of these recipes from now until I leave for our big trip to Australia at the beginning of December.
There’s one thing that you have to give LCBO credit for, and that is their high-gloss marketing. I often dive into the Saturday newspaper looking for the LCBO catalogue/flyer/insert. I have also been known to rifle through the paper recycling box to retrieve a mistakenly discarded LCBO promo item (does that qualify as ‘hitting bottom’?). I drool over the pictures, the recipes, and am a loyal reader of Food and Drink. Let’s face it: I will likely get the Europe on the Air Miles I collect from the liquor store alone – thanks in part to the LCBO gloss.
Since marketing is the name of the game, you will find that when you browse through the festive cocktail guide, you are probably going to have at least two out of the three ingredients for most of the cocktails, but you are probably going to have to spring for at least one item that you don’t have. So when I thought about what I would want to know from a cocktail review during a time of year that is already busy enough and expensive enough was…is it worth buying that bottle of [insert liqueur or spirit name here]? When would you drink it?
In lieu of a cheesy arbitrary rating scale, I bring you the very first martinis for breakfast review of a featured LCBO Festive Cocktail. First up: Sweet and Spice.
The Mix: Sweet and Spice
1.5 oz Baileys
0.5 oz Goldschlager
2 oz chocolate milk
Pour contents into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into a highball glass of ice. Garnish with a sugar-dipped cherry.
To make this cocktail, I had to invest in a bottle of Goldschlager (cinnamon schnapps with gold flakes) and picked up a 325 ml bottle at the LCBO for $16.25. At first, I was worried about how sweet this drink would be, but the addition of the Goldschlager toned down the sweetness to yield a smooth and creamy drink with a bit of, well spice. This one would go down nicely as an after dinner drink, or before bed as a substitute for the ‘milk’ in ‘milk in cookies’. Definitely worth the investment in the Goldschlager. The only thing I would change about this cocktail is its name. Instead of ‘Sweet and Spice’, I would change it to ‘Naughty and Nice’. But only because I have decided to go with ‘naughty’ this year.
OK, you've covered pink, now what would you do with blue? I have a bottle of Blue Curacao that I haven't cracked the seal on. I can't seem to get over the fact that it looks like the bottle of blue mouthwash i have on my bathroom counter.
I so hear you Lynne! I can’t tell you how many times I have looked into my liquor cabinet and sighed to myself about how that half-full bottle of Blue Curacao is still there, after god knows how long, still looking like mouthwash…or worse yet…Agent Cool Blue. You know, that vile blue stuff your kids can use pre-toothbrush to show where the plaque is on their teeth. Yes, we are now talking about plaque. And, yes. This really IS what it’s like in Jen’s brain.
Soooo….here is something I didn’t know about Blue Curacao before doing a wee bit of research for this blog posting: Blue Curacao is colourless in its natural form! OMG! And while I am sure that most ‘with-it’ people (Jen, not so ‘with it’) know that artificial coloring has got to be part of the equation, I am going to put a positive spin on that fake mouthwash-colour and remind you that one of the main benefits of this liqueur is what it will do to your cocktails. Think colour!
Also – think tropical! It’s not uncommon to see this liqueur in many tropical cocktails. It seems that Blue Curacao originated on the Caribbean Island Curacao (go figure), where the Spanish inhabitants (c 1550) tried to grow Valencia oranges…an experiment that yielded an inedible bitter fruit called Laraha citrus fruit. Turned out that when you marinated the peels of the Laraha in alcohol and water, added some spices (and that blue artificial coloring) those super smart Spaniards ended up with Blue Curacao – kinda sweet, kinda yummy.
OK – so now what? Lynne, you are going to get a TON of fan mail from fellow martinis for breakfast readers as your question about Blue Curacao gave me the perfect opportunity to profile my hands-down most favourite, most consumed, most fun, and most requested cocktail I have ever made and served at many a ‘have-to-wash-the-floor-next-day-it’s-so-sticky’ cocktail parties. That cocktail: Purple Rain.
The Mix: Purple Rain
1.5 oz raspberry twist vodka
0.5 to 0.75 oz Blue Curacao (you decide)
1.5 oz cranberry cocktail (or some other red juice) – to taste
Get your Prince CD. Queue up Purple Rain. Press ‘play’. Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with Swedish Berries. This is about where the chorus comes in….get ready to sing along….’Purple Rain, Purple Rain! I never wanted to be your, weekend lov-ah…’ and so on.
Please note: Playing the song is mandatory when drinking this cocktail.
This cocktail is super sweet, and super purple thanks to none other than the Blue Curacao mixed with the cranberry cocktail. I have mixed this up in the past using 100% pure cranberry juice, but it doesn’t come out as purple – just more of a toned down blue. So if you want to get the true purple colour, go for the cranberry cocktail (which probably also contains artificial colour, but who cares!). His Purple Highness would no doubt approve!
As for other Blue Curacao, I will remind you of my creepy cocktails post as this Hallowe’en, I polished off a whole bottle of Blue Curacao by mixing it with Creme de Banane to produce the ‘Alien Autopsy’ (yup, green). You could totally recycle this drink in time for St. Patty’s Day – just rename it something Irish.
Alien autopsies aside, I came across the blog ‘Choosy Beggars’ which tackled the same subject much more eloquently than I. They suggested using your bottle of blue to make: a nerdy cocktail (Romulan Ale, anyone?), a girly cocktail (Blue Lagoon) or a classic Mai Tai (where the presence of Blue Curacao is highly debated amongst Tiki purists – who knew!).
I’ll just close by advising you to remember another main benefit of Blue Curacao: it’s relatively cheap. So you could easily use up your bottle hosting an 80’s and/or nerdy and/or girlie exoctic-type cocktail type party for not a whole lot of money. Just be sure to invite Jen.
Ok – I know you are all over your Hallowe’en hangovers by now. Or your Hallowe’en ‘humbug’ - as one fellow blogger put it. I don’t have a stellar reputation for getting into the Hallowe’en spirit, and have groaned my way through many a Hallowe’en – surviving the ‘trick or treating’ only by the red wine poured into my travel ‘coffee’ mug by merciful neighbours carrying on our neighbourhood’s Hallowe’en tradition of imbibing the parents of treat-seekers.
I have been trying to incrementally increase my Hallowe’en spirit each year for the past few years mainly because the Jock always has great costume ideas, and because our girl is totally into it. Like decorate your house-fake blood-elaborate pumpkin carving kind of into it. So it’s hard not to get drawn into the enthusiasm of it all – and having a fabulous costume party to go to doesn’t hurt either.
I agonized over what my costume would be for the weeks leading up to the event and finally settled on Frenchie – the beauty school drop-out from Grease. Frenchie was of course, a member of the Pink Ladies - the Rydell High girl ‘gang’ – and dropped out of *high* school to go to *beauty* school.
With a modest investment in a (faux) pink satin jacket, a pink wig left over from ‘Wig Wednesday’ in New Orleans (don’t ask…) – the rest of the costume was easy to put together. The even bigger bonus: a cocktail to go with it.
I have always thought about the Pink Lady as a ‘classic’ cocktail as it’s not something you see on many cocktail menus anymore and I’ve never seen anyone order it. I myself had never had a Pink Lady before mixing them up to serve at the Hallowe’en party I attended last Saturday night.
The Mix: Pink Lady
1.5 oz gin
0.75 oz applejack (apple brandy)
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
0.25-0.5 oz grenadine (to taste)
1 egg white
Pour contents into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and drain into a cocktail glass.
Anytime I mix and serve these, I am right up-front about (what I call) the ‘ew’ factor with this drink, namely the egg white. I didn’t like the idea of there being an egg white in this drink (one of my taster extrodinaires asked: “So, like…am I going to get Salmonella from this drink?), but truthfully the delightful pinky foam it produced on the top of the cocktail did make me giggle. I immediately thought about how nice these would look served up on a platter to a group (and especially in my Pink Lady costume).
Seems that I did in fact fall prey to the expected or desired ‘girl reaction’ to the drink as many cocktail experts recount how the onset of women ‘drinking in public’ was also the onset of a whole new cocktail design and experimentation that sought to create cocktails that would appeal to the ‘weaker sex’. The Pink Lady was among one of the first ‘girlie drinks’ that was thought to appeal to women by cloaking the alcohol under a mountain of sugar and entertaining foam – how un-sophisticated!
This drink is anything BUT un-sophisticated – as depending on your lemon-juice to grenadine ratio, what emerges is a cocktail that tastes more tart and dry than sweet. A taste that I thought would be more gender neutral than anything else. That’s exactly how it played out at the Hallowe’en Party as I had men and women in equal parts taking these off my drink tray for most of the night. There was one guy in particular who kept popping by the bar all night long asking when the next tray of Pink Ladies would be coming out.
BUT – the name, the colour. In the end, I thought back to overly-sensitive’s predicament about the gin and tonic and wondered: would your average dude belly up to the bar and order a ‘Pink Lady’? Probably not. And what a shame! Perhaps in ’girlie’ fashion, this cocktail needs to go to beauty school for a makeover. I’d start with the name. Any suggestions?
I am so happy to report that the cocktail lounge is (finally) open for business! Look across the top of my page, and you’ll see a link that takes you directly to the lounge. This lounge is pretty awesome as there is no cab fare to get there, no VIP list, no cover, and no bouncers. In the lounge, you’ll see who Jen hangs out with on-line!
The only thing missing from this page are all the tumblelogs I follow, which were too numerous to list here. So I will ask fellow tumblrs to be patient…and watch for a separate page coming soon!
So mix your most favourite martini, sit back, and check these blogs out!