cocktails for kate

I have been asking pretty much everyone I know about the Royal Wedding, and if they’re planning to tune into Wills’ and Kate’s nuptials on April 29th.  The responses I have gotten so far have ranged everywhere from ‘not giving a rat’s ass’ (the Jock) to a hard-core Royal-watching friend who is in London right now to take it all in (Cathy, I am SO happy you’re there!).

In addition to chatting it up with friends, relatives and other innocent victims who happen to be sharing the elevator with me (19 floors gives a lot of time to chat), I’ve been having dreams about the Royal Wedding, reading about it in the papers, and watching the cheesy made for television documentaries on how Wills and Kate fell in love (awwww…). 

Although a prevailing opinion about the Royals is that they’ve now moved into irrelevant ‘celebrity status’ rather than a prominent figure in the running of Great Britain, a very interesting ‘why-should-I-care-about-the-Royal-Wedding’ article from Saturday’s Globe and Mail talked about how Kate Middleton and the Royal Wedding has (and should) forced the monarchy to take a hard look at the notion of a ‘skip a generation’ succession plan for the throne and what this might mean for the future relevance of the Monarchy.  Another humorous editorial in the same paper by Margaret Wente went so far as to say that Kate was actually ‘marrying down’ – labelling Kate as a woman who can breathe some life into the wilting royal image.   

Overwhelmingly, most people I’ve talked with tend to take on a (less extreme) version of the Jock’s answer, and aren’t too interested in Friday’s festivities, much less willing to change their schedules to watch it.  However, since the live coverage of the Royal Wedding begins this Friday morning at 2:00 am, EST, I honestly wouldn’t even bother to set my alarm if I were you.  I would find a cocktail party to go to on Thursday evening, and turn it into an all-night party.  There’s still time for you to ask your boss for the day off on Friday!

Hypothetically speaking, if I were hosting a Royal Wedding Cocktail Party, or even better, was the Royal Mixologist (not a chance in hell, I know) here’s a sample of what royal watchers/wedding guests would be drinking to celebrate:

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The Mix: The Ritz Sidecar

1 oz Crown Royal Reserve

1 oz Earl-Grey-tea-infused Cointreau

1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

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Pour contents into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously for 20 seconds.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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I actually found this recipe a few weeks ago in the newspaper, and thought that the complement of tea and Crown Royal would be perfect for the Royal Wedding.  AND I’m sure you will remember my post on how to make the Earl-Grey-tea-infused Cointreau here.  It is dead easy to make.  This is one of my most favourite cocktails that I have tried as of late!  Mix it up!  

If you head on over to the Tanqueray Gin Facebook page, you will also find some special Royal Wedding Cocktails including the ‘Blushing Bride’ and ‘The NewlyWeds’.  I mixed up the Blushing Bride the other day – a bit on the sweet side for me, but boozy enough if you adjust the amount of grenadine.

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The Mix:  Blushing Bride

0.75 oz Tanqueray

0.5 oz Triple Sec

0.5 oz orange juice

0.5 oz lemon juice

0.5 oz grenadine
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Shake vigorously and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with flamed orange zest.
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And lastly, Beppi never fails with this article on cocktails that are fitting for a toast to the royal couple.  This was just posted today, so I haven’t had the chance to check them out yet…thinking that the Royal Gin Fizz will be a perfect ‘breakfast martini option’ when I myself am (still) awake at 5 am on Friday and watching the ceremony.

Someone I spoke to who relegated the Royals to ‘useless celebrity’ status told me that about the only way he could get into watching the Royal Wedding without throwing up would be if he got some kind of kitsch value out of it, or if he could come around to see it as some kind of tacky spectacle.  Well, turns out that Lydia Leith (UK Artist), has brought vomiting and kitsch together in commemoration of the nuptials with her Royal Wedding Sick Bag.  Useful for if you have one too many at your pre-wedding cocktail party, or if you need to ‘Throne Up’ during the ceremony (am getting one for the Jock).

But if your pre-wedding cocktail party goes really well, and you hook up with some dashing Royal, you may find yourself in a situation where you need the Crown Jewels Condoms of Distinction.  Lie back and think of England. 

So just where is that sick bag?


election cocktails

When Canadian Election number 41 was announced waaaay back in March sometime, I started thinking to myself:  man-oh-man.  I’m going to need a drink to get through this.  I also started thinking of Election Cocktails.  These would be pro-democracy election themed cocktails that one could enjoy all. Campaign.  Long. 

Turns out that CBC Day 6 (my new favourite CBC radio show!) was one step ahead of me with their ‘Campaign Cocktails’ series that has been running for about five or so weeks now (ah, Jen?  You’re just telling me this now?!).  AND they have consummate professional Oliver Stern (of the Toronto Temperance Society - check out their House Rules…) workin’ for them!  Each week Oliver and the Day 6 gang have been distilling weekly campaign (mis)happenings down to a super fancy cocktail of the week.  Unfortunately, because I run a fairly low tech bar, I haven’t tried a single one.  As much as these cocktails sound super-delicious, I just don’t have some of the necessary ingredients (and am unwilling to invest in $35 bottle of Chambord), OR the necessary experience (Absinthe, much?) OR the necessary equipment (a juicer?  Ah, no.)  to make these happen.  YOU should try them though, and send me a picture if you do!  Here is the link to the Day 6:  ‘Campaign Cocktails’.

In the meantime, with one week left, I’m thinking that you’re probably desperate for a drink (if you haven’t been watching The National with cocktail in hand for several weeks now).  Here’s what my election cocktails would look like (please note in this case that I am the not-so consummate professional - prepare to be underwhelmed):

Minority Martini:  I really AM hoping for another minority government.  Mostly because I think that Stephen Harper has done so much damage to Canada already, I can’t bear to think of what he would do if he actually got a majority government this time round.  I worry about health care.  I worry about our environment.  I worry about progressive policies that give women and their children options. I worry about a government so secretive and so undemocratic, that our children will be dealing with a Harper Hangover for generations to come.

The ‘Minority Martini’ ends up being pretty bright for the dash of blue curacao (for the Conservatives…ugh) it takes  – but to that dash of blue curacao add a dash of elderflower cordial (you can buy it at the Herb and Spice), a dash of pineapple juice and, finally a dash of lemon juice to a Champagne flute.  Top up with Champagne to celebrate the fact that Harper and his Conservatives got stuck with another minority government.  Celebrate that Canadian values of tolerance, reason and respect will be safe for a little while longer.

Coalition Cocktail:  This is a super-refreshing drink to symbolize the super-refreshing change a coalition would bring to Canadian Parliament.  I honestly can’t believe how the pro-Harper folks out there have the gall to walk around as if coalition governments are ‘undemocratic’.  Seriously.  I slept through most of my high school history lessons as well, but remember distinctly about coalition governments as a totally viable, politically correct part of a parliamentary system.  Undemocratic, my ass.

Mosey on over to Martha’s summer cocktail inventory, and make the Cucumber Ginger Fizz for you and your fellow coalition members.  Substitute the vodka for gin if you are that kind of girl.

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Proportional Representation Punch:  The fact is, most people did NOT vote for Harper and his cronies in the last election.  And while I know that a Prime Minister/governing party can be elected when the majority of people did not vote for them is a reality of the Parliamentary system, I dare to dream that we can do better.  That’s why I am an avid supporter of proportional representation.  I know it would be complex, but here are two videos (one short, and one long starring John Cleese) that show you how it’s done.  I know it would be different…but I can’t help but to think that proportional representation would lead to a complement of parties sitting in Parliament that is more true to the complement of Canadians who make up our country and get out and vote.

I am currently in the midst of negotiating an ‘Election Night Soiree’ with the Jock where we invite fellow voters citizens over to watch the election result coverage on the big-screen TV (now THAT is going to be ONE happening party, let me tell ya!).  Problem is:  I’m going to need to imbibe a small crowd, and I’d like to do that as efficiently as possible.  So…I actually wrote in to Day 6, asking if they could get Oliver et al. working on it…I’ll let you know if I hear back, and will post any recipes I get here.

Election cocktail or not, please get out and vote on May 2nd.  And as they say on Day 6, drink how you vote:  responsibly and without regret.


Earl-Grey Tea Infused Cointreau

I made this concoction for a ‘Royal Wedding’ cocktail I am planning to serve for my own version of the ‘rehearsal dinner’ on Thursday night (recipe to come later).  If I can make it, YOU can make it!  Seriously.

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The Mix

8 Earl Grey Tea Bags

1 oz hot water

1 750 ml bottle Cointreau

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Put the tea bags in a container with the hot water.  Pour the bottle of Cointreau in and cover overnight (I left it for all day).  I did a ‘before’ and ‘after’ taste test.  What emerges is a ‘smoother’ Cointreau with a hit of Earl Grey.  Super easy and worth it!


bring on the bling

I am going to warn you right up front that this post violates the whole ‘what goes on the road, stays on the road’ code of conduct that protects the privacy and confidentiality for women everywhere who participate in ‘Girls Weekends’.  Please note that I have changed the identities to protect the innocent.  Since so many people have asked me so many questions about my weekend away in Brookline, I had to blog about it.  A kind of public service announcement, if you will.  But if you are of the faint at heart, and want to avoid the drunken debauchery tales that sum up this year’s weekend – I’ll spare you the pain with a short synopsis that includes:  me.  A road trip.  Twenty or so women in Boston, four ‘milestone’ birthdays, hard core retail therapy, sore feet, a few drag queens, a party trolley, and fabulous cocktails (that is what the blog is about, after all). 

Where to start?  Well, let me just say that you don’t end up at Jacque’s on a Friday night stuffing dollar bills into the ‘cleavage’ of some drag queen by accident.  There is some serious planning by a team dubbed the ‘J, J and S Show’ (please note, one of the J’s is not me…oh and - those aren’t their real initials) that would put even the most skilled and chipper Cruise Director/Assistant Cruise Director to shame.  Sorry Julie, sorry Vicky.  In addition to hotel/restaurant and ’secret activity’ details, the ten page ‘Bring on the Bling’ itinerary provided helpful hints on why you need to shave your legs for Girl’s Weekend (four to a room, two to a bed, ‘nuff said), how ID is mandatory for all Beantown bars (even if you look like a crusty old cougar), a recommendation that you NOT shop with women who have competing shoe sizes, how slut wear and duct-taping of breasts is perfectly acceptable, but that complaining of sore feet after a night of dancing in high heels is not. 

The group of four I travelled with set off in a minivan o’ fun (complete with disco balls) from Ottawa to Boston on Thursday morning at 5 am (yes, we really were on the road at that time), crossed the border at 6:45 am, and on to the New Hampshire Liquor Barn Store just after lunch.  And just let me say that the best thing about New Hampshire (other than the ‘Live Free or Die’ license plates) is that the highway exit signs include information on whether or not there is a liquor store at the upcoming exit.  Now this is the shit you need to know!

By the time we rolled into Boston, we were well-stocked, well dressed and ready to bring on the bling!  Here’s where we went and what we did:

twentyeight degrees:  We went to this totally hip, urban, lounge-type restaurant to celebrate our birthdays, with family shared style meals (yes!  That IS my name on the menu…they got my age wrong, though.  Okay, okay.  I am in denial).  The most awesome itinerary estimated our dinner to come in at around $50 or so – but it turns out that when the wine was flowing, many of us were adept at drinking our weight, so the cost was doubled.  This place had a cocktail menu with 22 cocktails (!) far too many to choose from in one night.  I had the ‘Lavender Martini’ (Hendricks Gin, Lavender, Honey, fresh Lemon), which reinforced exactly why I have lavender in my garden.

After that we pressed on to Jacque’s (the first of two ‘Secret Activities’) where my boozy haze put me totally at ease with the Britney/Lady Gaga renditions, AND going pee in the ‘Women’s’ washroom with a drag queen in the next stall over from me.  Think about looking down and seeing size 11/12 white Patten go-go boots pointing in the wrong direction.  Think about looking down and seeing that when you’re stone cold sober.

On Saturday, probably my most favourite restaurant EVER in the history of my life:  Cuchi Cuchi (located in Cambridge).  GO to the website to check out the decor of this place and the International ‘straight-up’ plates that we paired and shared.  Most impressive was the drink menu with served drinks made of muddled fresh fruit and herbs, vintage (and totally boozy) cocktails, Clerico, Sangria and naughty Bottoms Up shots.  At this place I had the:  ‘Bebop a Lula, She’s my Diva’ (muddled lemongrass, lemoncello, lychee liqueur, rum, soda water) and then an ‘Easy Virtue’ (muddled ginger, ginger liqueur, rum, soda water) in tribute to the bottle of Canton Ginger Liqueur I bought in New Hampshire (more on this later).

After Cuchi Cuchi (and ready for secret activity number two), we were all gathered outside the restaurant…waiting to go to our next destination…and complaining about everything but our feet (see notes on the itinerary, above), when around the corner drove the ‘Original Party Trolley’.  I wish I had a picture to post (I don’t regularly travel with a camera – earning a ‘tsk tsk’ from the Jock) but I think the website says it all.  Imagine the look on our faces when the trolley stopped in front of the restaurant, the doors opened and Lady Gaga* (*not her real name) stepped out complete with fog and ‘My Humps’ blaring from the vehicle.  Jesus God!  We all boarded the trolley thinking that we didn’t need a bar or a lounge to continue celebrating.  Hell!  We are our own party!  A very patient Reg drove us all around downtown Boston with an official ‘Trolley Soundtrack’ cheesy 80’s videos, a microphone, and a couple of coolers packed with coolers, beer, water and Gatorade – supplied by the planning committee (we are hard core!).  If you look at the pictures on the website you will see that our trolley came complete with a ‘dancefloor’ and poles (which may have been used by some for ‘pole-dancing’ – protecting the innocent here) as well as a fully functional light system, smoke machine and sound system.  Hilarious!

After a night of trolley-ing it up, we managed to pull our sorry asses out of bed, checked out and were in the minivan o’ fun back on the road by 8:30 am Sunday morning.  Shopped along the way.  So now it’s a rest until next year.  Some checked into the Betty Ford Clinic for detox.   

The only thing I regret about my [Extreme] Girls Weekend was that I didn’t get the chance to look up my good friends Greg and Michelle who live in that neck of the woods.  But being expert partiers themselves, I know that they will totally understand how the party takes over sometimes!  Next time!

This concludes the public service announcement of Girl’s Weekend in Brookline.  Boston will never be the same.


Bebop a lula, she’s my diva!  Outside Cuchi Cuchi, in Cambridge Mass.

Bebop a lula, she’s my diva!  Outside Cuchi Cuchi, in Cambridge Mass.


the fashionista

True confession:  I faithfully read the Globe and Mail Style Section each week specifically to check out the ‘cocktail of the week’ (my name for it), but most of the time I find that they publish recipes that call for some fairly high-maintenance ingredients - that is, ingredients that might be a wee bit hard to find/have to order special, or for which I can only envision myself buying or making for that one cocktail recipe only.  So I often just read with interest and continue the fantasy of tending my own bar where I could justify the time and money for some of those fancy mixes.  

But did you SEE the cocktail profiled in this past weekend’s G&M Style section??  It is called 'The Fashionista', and it was created to pay tribute to Toronto’s Fashion Week (March 28-April 2).  With the booze being Campari/Triple Sec/Gin mixed with OJ/Grapefriut juice, you probably have everything on hand to mix this one up without a trip to the LCBO!

I made this when I was packing for my business trip to Regina (where it is NOT fashion week!), and can assure you that this citrus and refreshing cocktail inspired me to pack and coordinate enough fashionable outfits to float through airport security, look glamorous during the layover, and own the boardroom when I got there.  Or at least own the deserted office that had been picked clean of all office supplies…including an office chair.

Tell me how this drink transforms your life!


Jen’s oatmeal!  With peanut butter and bananas on top!  Keeps you full until the bar opens (as the Jock would say).  Scroll down to see which kind of oatmeal makes you ‘cooler’…

Jen’s oatmeal!  With peanut butter and bananas on top!  Keeps you full until the bar opens (as the Jock would say).  Scroll down to see which kind of oatmeal makes you ‘cooler’…


Q
Dear MFB,

I have recently noticed that everyone who is someone is eating oatmeal for breakfast. Is oatmeal the new martini?

I had never tried oatmeal before yesterday when I gave into the social pressure to try the stuff. My G-d, even the local CBC morning show has been going on about oatmeal and they're the height of commercial cool in this city.

Here is my dilemma. The cafeteria where I work has both "oatmeal" and "Red River" I am on my second day and so I have now tried both. I'm not sure that I have a preference beyond a sense that eating the Red River makes me cooler than eating regular oatmeal. However, if this trend is about back to the basics maybe Red River only signifies that I am trying too hard (which I am).

So, my question to you, finally, is: Which oatmeal makes me cooler?

Who knows, with your help and a good base of oatmeal in my belly, I may one day graduate to martinis for breakfast.

First time caller, long time listener,

MADS
Anonymous
A

Hi MADS,

 

I LOVE getting questions from long time listeners.  Thanks for asking!

 

First off, let me say how happy I am that you gave in to the social pressure to try oatmeal.  It’s good stuff!   When I’m not drinking martinis for breakfast, I am of course scarfing down a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal.  A hot bowl is perfect after a long swim practice, and keeps me full until it’s 12:00 somewhere.

 

Assuming that the “oatmeal” you are talking about is the quick-cooking Quaker variety that you find in oatmeal cookies, after a quick ‘internet-supported’ search, I’m going to have to say that the Red River variety makes you cooler.  Here’s why: 

 

  • Red River Cereal is 100% grain.  Oatmeal is, of course too (unless your cafeteria is cooking up one of the sugar-laden flavoured kinds), but the bonus with Red River is that it is a mix of wheat, rye and flax.  Dieticians everywhere are whining about the fact that we don’t get enough variety when it comes to whole grain, so if you eat Red River every day, feel free to be smug about how you’re ‘eating a balanced diet’.

 

  • Fibre (5.7g of it), protein (5.5 g of it), and flax.  Red River has all three in each serving.  Honestly, just the flax content alone is super cool:  dieticians and health food enthusiasts love that shit.  Scoff at your bagel-eating colleague in the cafeteria line for not eating complex carbs!

 

  • It’s a cult thing:  it appears that Red River cereal has a bit of a cult following among Canadian ex-pats!  You can even ‘Buy it Now’ by the box on eBay (some with free shipping).  I would say that if you can get this cereal on eBay, you’re eating something for breakfast that everyone wants.

So while choosing Red River cereal at the office cafeteria is going to keep you trendy (and help you feel nutritionally superior to your co-workers), I’d like you to consider one last thing if you want your oatmeal to be a bit edgier:  accessorize!  Check out Kath’s ‘Tribute to Oatmeal’ to get some ideas about how to make your oatmeal stand out.  I eat mine topped with Peanut Butter and sliced bananas.  Super yummy!  And finally – local hero Donna Davis of the Elation Centre just posted a recipe for ‘Powered-Up Oatmeal’ that will help you avoid the walk of shame to the cafeteria later in the day for the giant cookie or the peanut M&M’s.  Not that I ever do that.

 But in spite of all this talk about oatmeal the cool factor, it will never be the ‘new’ martini!  So when you’re ready, check back for a martini recipe…or use this one in the meantime.  Keep on reading!


mexico in march

A big thanks to Janice (one of my most loyal followers) for sending along this delicious-sounding cocktail recipe all the way from Mexico, where she has been staying for the month of March (so jealous).  I’m thinking that you’ll be able to drink this one without any nasty tequila flashbacks.  So read on…and (as they say in the commercial) don’t hate Janice for being in Mexico! 

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As a faithful follower of Jen’s blog I can’t resist adding the recipe for a wonderful refreshing cocktail.  I am here in San Miguel de Allende Mexico where it is sunny, hot and very dry. Also the altitude here is something like 6000 feet above sea level.  One gets very thirsty here.


Enter the Paloma, Mexico’s answer to the ubiquitous British Gin and Tonic.  It is easy to prepare and easy going down.  Just slosh two ounces of Tequila into a tall ice-filled glass, squeeze one half of a lime over top, throw on a pinch of salt and fill the glass with grapefruit soda.  Here’s the recipe
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The Mix:  La Paloma au natural
kosher salt
2 oz good quality tequila
4 oz grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed if you have time)
Juice of half a lime
1/2 oz agave syrup or sparkling water or club soda
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Rim your glass with salt and fill with ice.  Stir tequila, fruit juices and agave syrup together in a shaker and pour over ice.  Top with sparkling water or club soda.
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It may be hard to think of enjoying this drink at the moment in the yucky March Ottawa weather but keep it in mind for when the weather turns warmer and you can hang out on the deck or patio.

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J in Mexico

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Thanks Janice!  And just remember how hard it is to get good quality Tequila in Ottawa in March (hint, hint!).


a couple spring-ish cocktails

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, feel good about the pain you have been spared.  On Twitter, I’m the idiot (some might even say asshole) who retweets Ian Black’s winter storm warnings with a ‘Yay!  More snow=more xc skiing!’ or a ‘#bringit’ when everyone else is so done with winter.  And so done with the associated: chapstick, hat-hair, slush, and shovelling of the rain-saturated snow.  Taking up cross country skiing (after an eleven or twelve year hiatus) really did have the benefit of changing my outlook on winter, but next year I promise not to retweet BlacksWeather in an obnoxious manner.  Surprisingly, I didn’t lose any of my (super-patient) Twitter followers, but feel the need to redeem myself with a couple of spring-ish cocktails now that it’s finally officially here!

First up is the Tequila Sunrise.  I mixed this one up because I had some leftover (?!) tequila from Margarita Day, and I thought that you might too.  If you are one of the many (like me), who sustained a bad tequila experience in your undergrad days, don’t worry.  You are totally going to be able to handle this cocktail without the salt shaker/lemon/toilet bowl flashbacks.  If anything, the warmth of this drink is going to make you want to pull out your old Eagles albums.  That’s what I did when I mixed this up on Sunday evening pre-cocktail get together with the neighbours (had to test them out, of course).  A couple more, and I might have even pulled out my guitar and strummed along with Glenn Frey and Don Henley.  Fortunately, my family was spared this experience. 

The Mix:  Tequila Sunrise

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1.5 oz Tequila

0.5 oz grenadine

Squeeze of lime

4 to 5 oz orange juice

Add grenadine to the bottom of a highball glass.  Fill with ice and add Tequila, a squeeze of lime juice and the orange juice.  Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

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The next spring-ish cocktail up is the Sea Breeze, which I dedicate to my work colleagues who ganged up on me last week on my way to the office kitchenette.  Topic:  just what kind of lazy blogger are you, anyway?  I needed a thug.

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“You’ve been slacking off, lately.” One of them said.

“Ya – last post – Braveheart?” the other added in a ‘what-EVER’ tone.

“And NO cocktails in that post!”

So the Sea Breeze is dedicated to my faithful work colleagues who subscribe by email, have added me to their blog readers, and who drop by my office with good cocktail stories, articles clipped from magazines, and book recommendations. 

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The Mix:  Sea Breeze

2 oz Vodka

3 oz grapefruit juice

2 oz cranberry juice

Lime wedge

Pour the liquid ingredients into an ice-filled highball glass and stir.  Moisten the rim with the lime wedge and then squeeze it over the drink and drop it in.

For most of you, the Sea Breeze is going to evoke warm and gentle salty misted breezes that you might experience when partaking in ocean front dining, a walk along the beach, or when you are starring in a fabulous music video set on a beach where you have awesome hair (that blows just the right way, missing your lip gloss) and an awesome tan.  Sorry, a bit of Spring Fever there.

 

BUT - the real reason I dedicate this cocktail to my work colleagues is because we all work on the Pasture (which is definitely less glamorous than the music video).  And because everyone knows that the Pasture comes with its very own weather system (or is a ‘secret’ wind tunnel research site for the NRC).  So when the brisk (warm) spring winds start up, you definitely need some inspiration to make it to the front of your building, to pry the doors open, and to then counter the negative image effects of the windblown whipped hair look (spitting the hair caught in your lip gloss out does not help in this endeavour).  So over the next couple of weeks, I will be downgrading those strong spring Pasture winds to gentle ‘sea’ breezes coming off the river - despite what Ian Black might say.  No obnoxious retweets there. 

 

Next up:  Jen tackles a REAL breakfast problem!