Cuckoo for Coconut

(Not really.) I had a recipe the other day calling for coconut milk. My first instinct was to simmer some shredded coconut in milk or cream and call that coconut milk. But I was at the grocery looking for something else and saw they had cans of coconut milk, so I picked one up.

The recipe calls for Drambuie, Grand Marnier, coconut milk, honey, spiced rum, a pinch of cloves, with hot water poured in to mix and melt. You're also supposed to put whipped cream on top (which I forgot) plus a piece of lemon studded with cloves (which I thought was silly).

Not a bad, warm winter drink. I like cloves, and spicy drinks generally, so this appealed to me. If you didn't have powdered cloves on hand, you could add a little falernum, which might make it even better. I frankly don't see what the point of the coconut milk was, since you couldn't taste it, except to add creaminess. Regular milk or cream would do just as well. And I'm not sure you could taste the Grand Marnier either with all the other flavors going on.

Since I had most of a can of coconut milk left, I tried a couple other recipes. The first was Galliano and coconut milk, 2 to 1 ratio, shaken and strained. I like Galliano, but this cocktail was just too blandly sweet and generally unexciting.

The second was equal parts dark rum and coconut milk on ice, topped off with club soda. One drink, yuk, into the sink. I've had a drink or two before this year calling for dark rum with club soda, and the combination just doesn't work at all.

Pulling a Miilk Punch

Times flies; I didn't realize my last post was on the 25th. In the last few days I've been trying various hot drinks/cocktails, some from my calendar, some from Internet Cocktail Database.

Let's start with the milk punches. The first one was a cold milk punch: milk, a little sugar, bourbon, a little rum, and the ubiquitous nutmeg. This one was probably my least favorite. The combination of flavors just didn't do it for me, but maybe I should left out the optional rum. And the drink just tasted milky. I took a few sips and dumped it out.

The second one was a hot milk punch: warmed milk (I added a little cream this time for good measure), equal parts brandy and rum, sugar, nutmeg. I liked this one much more. Milk is always better warmed up (well, not if you drink it with popcorn, like I do), and the brandy and rum worked together more than the bourbon and rum had. Good drink.

Next was a hot buttered rum: hot water, pat of butter, rum, little sugar. This wasn't bad, but tasted like, well, water. Though the butter helped. I may have used a little too much water. I use big mugs.

Last, from my calendar, a 'Seville flip': cream, sugar, light rum, port, all warmed up, with a shower of nutmeg. I take back what I said earlier: this was my least favorite. It just didn't look appetizing, not least because the cream was curdling or whatever cream does. The flavors weren't all that great either. Don't try this one at home.

Egg Nogs and More

I tried a couple new egg nog recipes this year, along with one for wassail.

I must confess that I usually drink store-bought egg nog (Kroger, or whatever), with all its sugar and cholesterol. A few years ago I tried a recipe for homemade from the Food Network (one of Paula Deen's, I think), and it was undrinkable, so I retreated to Kroger.

The first version I made this year was from my calendar; the ingredients sound good: eggs, Irish whiskey (I didn't have quite enough so I supplemented it with bourbon), Irish Mist, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, milk, the usual nutmeg garnish.

Well, first off, with all the spice, you can't taste the Irish Mist at all, so it's wasted. Second, maybe because I was using 2 percent milk, but this nog tasted very 'milky', not rich at all. Although the whiskey and bourbon sneak up on you just when you wonder where they are. I drank a couple half cups and dumped it out.

The second recipe was from a holiday show on HGTV, Grandma Somebody's recipe: 6 eggs, 6 oz bourbon, 6 oz gin, 6 oz sugar, 15 oz heavy cream, all blended together. Nutmeg ad lib.

This one tasted much better (using heavy cream, it should), though I thought the use of gin sounded odd, and it makes the taste just a little off too. White or a light gold rum would go better with the bourbon. A teaspoon of vanilla might help too.

Today I tried the wassail recipe from my calendar; I've never drunk wassail before. Orange peel and juice, lemon peel and juice, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick (my addition), brown sugar, hot water, ale, and hard cider.

I had high hopes for this drink, but its main charm was to leave the house smelling good when I came back from Xmas dinner. I think the heavy hand of my calendar author with citrus came into play again here, because the flavor was on the tart side. It could have been sweeter, along the lines of mulled wine, but the ale as the main ingredient just didn't bring the best flavors. Maybe if I'd used a better ale, but I doubt it. Luckily I tasted it before going to Xmas dinner, so I left it at home as an Glade plug-in.

Irish Mist Cocktails

Continuing my investigation of Irish Mist, I made two of the recipes using it on wikipedia.

The first is equal parts IM and Drambuie. The Irish and the Scots come together. This cocktail is pretty sweet, but with nice herbal flavors from both liqueurs, especially the Drambuie. It might taste better warmed up a little.

The second is equal parts IM and Irish whiskey; I'm using Jameson's. This one isn't as sweet, and I like the slight sweetness and herbal flavors that the IM adds to the IW. IM is made with whiskey and honey, after all. You can't beat that combination. This might taste better warmed too.

Geting Misty

I have a recipe coming up in my calendar that calls for Irish Mist. This is another occasion of the calendar author calling for a liqueur all of one time, with me, the gentle reader and mixologist, stuck with a bottle of something he/she/it wouldn't drink otherwise.

I asked the clerk at the liquor mart (where luckily they had a small size bottle of Irish Mist--still $20) if they had an airline size bottle in their extensive collection behind the counter. They had everything else under the sun. He looked, not very hard, and said no, so a full bottle it was.

According to Wikipedia, IM is made in Dublin to a 1,000 year old recipe that includes Irish whiskey, honey, secret herbs and spices, and other secret stuff.

I tasted a splash or two last night (the recipe that calls for it isn't for another day or two). Its taste seems pretty bland. I could taste the whiskey base, but otherwise it seemed pretty innocuous. To compare it to Benedictine and Drambuie, I poured out little glasses of both. Benedictine is by far the most herby of the herd. Not as much as chartreuse, but I let out a moo. Drambuie is slightly less aromatic, but a lot more than IM.

Internet Cocktail Database must not like IM, because they don't list it as an ingredient and don't have any recipes calling for it. According to Wikipedia, you can combine it the blue curacao and sparkling water or lemon-lime to make a Green Mist cocktail, equal parts Drambuie for a Rusty Nail, and equal parts Irish whiskey (e.g., Jameson's) for a Black Nail. I'll give those a try and report on them. Maybe not the lemon-lime version.

Cold Winter Drinks

And cold it was today: 15 degrees when I got up this morning (and the sun was shining) (so you can figure out how late I slept in). It never got much warmer and had dropped to 12 before the sun went down. The wind really picked up this afternoon, with a wind chill of minus 11. We're supposed to hit 6 overnight, but I bet it gets colder.

The first drink I made this weekend was yet another, but luckily the last, sangria. This called for a 'light red wine', cognac, dried cherries, figs, and optional club soda (I didn't option it). I had a small chunk of lemon I tossed in too.

So what's a light red wine? Luckily this was a one bottle sangria, unlike some of this calendar's recipes, so I looked for something cheap. At the grocery I saw a Beringer "white Merlot" for $6; I figured that would work. And what's a white Merlot? Sort of like a pink Zin or a white Zin. Pretty sweet for me, though my sister loves these soda pop wines.

Figs always are useful to have around for baking or cooking, so I bought a package. The dried cherries, which I love and can eat right out of the bag, cost twice as much as cherry-flavored Craisins, so the Craisins won. It's the usual stir up and let sit for 2 hours recipe. Serve over ice. (I heard a quasi sangria recipe on the radio today that called for pears, prunes, and sage: I think I'll past on that one. What a combination!)

This sangria isn't bad. I don't think I could taste much of the figs, though I did get an erstaz cherry or two. The wine wasn't overwhelmingly sweet, probably toned down by the lemon chunk and the cognac. And the sangria packs a nice little punch.

The second cocktail was a coffee-hot chocolate combination. I had some Ghirardelli sweet cocoa, so I mixed it with milk in a pan. The coffee came from my local Kwikee Mart. You pour some dark creme de cacao (good thing the recipe called for dark, only about the second time all year, since I'm out of white) and some peppermint schnapps in your mug, add roughly equal parts hot chocolate and coffee (a little more of the latter), stir, top with hipped cream.

A nice hot chocolate mint cocktail. If Starbucks served these, maybe they'd be doing better.

Grappling with Grappa

I bought a bottle of grappa a few months ago thinking that my calendar had a recipe this fall that calls for it. Alas, it doesn't. In fact, Internet Cocktail Database has only one cocktail recipe calling for grappa.

My bottle is Grappa di Pino Zardetto. Grappa is the distilled leftovers from the wine-making process: stems, skins, etc. Wikipedia says it's a "pomace brandy". If you're interested in what that is, it's easier to read their explanation than my trying to paraphrase it:

Grappa is pretty high proof: 75 to 120. It looks like rubbing alcohol in the glass. My first reaction to tasting it is it tastes like rubbing alcohol too.

But after I took a few sips, I began to get its floral notes. Or maybe it was just the proof talking in a slur. It's not a liqueur I'd ever gulp down in even sherry-like quantities, but it's a nice sipping liqueur.

Wikipedia says that in Italy grappa is often drunk as a digestif, and many times they add a shot to espresso, which they call an espresso corretto, corrected espresso, or put a little into the dregs of a cup of espresso and drink it that way. Those Italians really know how to do a meal right.

If I have a chance this evening I'll make the grappa cocktail and report on it here.

And the review: the cocktail calls for 2 parts gin (I used Calvert's) to 1 part dry vermouth, 1 part sambucca, and 1 part grappa, shaken over ice, poured into a cocktail glass (or a red Solo cup, as is my usual practice).

Not a bad cocktail: if you like licorice/anise, you'll like this because the sambucca overwhelms the other flavors. I'm not a big licorice fan, but I can go for this one. It's also a sweet drink without being too sweet, like a lot of creme de cacao cocktails. I'm not sure I can taste the grappa, but I'm sure I'll get the kick from it.

Chocolate Egg Nog

My drink a day calendar has moved into holiday cocktails this week.

This one from yesterday is for people who don't like egg nog, but think they should drink it to be festive: 4 cups any store bought egg nog, nutmeg, cloves (just a tad), couple tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. You'll probably need to whisk it all together while you warm it up in a pan.

Add a half cup grated Mexican chocolate, the kind that comes in individually wrapped paper circles in the little paper 'box'. I grated mine on a micro-plane, but the food processor would be a lot faster. Warm this up with your egg nog mixture just to a simmer. Take off the heat, and add a cup of tequila (or to taste; I used a little less, and reposado).

I'd never thought of tequila in egg nog, but this doesn't really taste like egg nog, more like a spiked hot chocolate, and it's nicely spicy. And the tequila packs a punch.

A good winter night drink, and it'd be great on the stove or in the slow cooker at parties.

Amaretto Drinks

Amaretto sours were about as wild I used to get when I would order a drink out, before I started this cocktail a day calendar this year. I've always liked amaretto, though after all the flavors I've tasted this year now it seems kind of bland.

I knew I had an amaretto drink upcoming in my calendar today, so over the weekend I tried a couple that I saw in amaretto ads on TV. The first is roughly equal parts cranberry juice and amaretto on ice. This one didn't have much kick: the amaretto surprisingly muted the cran, and vice nversa.

The second was milk with amaretto on ice. Now, granted, I used Dean's 2 percent, so I wasn't using a full-flavored (and fat) milk, but this one tasted like a beverage my friends would give their 6 year old while the grown-ups were enjoying sazeracs.

The cocktail in my calendar today is 2 to 1 brandy (I used Korbel) to amaretto. I always have mixed feelings about brandy; I'm beginning to think I like it best for flaming desserts, but maybe I just haven't had a really good one. This cocktail wasn't my favorite of the year, but you could taste the amaretto and it had the brandy kick. A splash of lemon might have taken it over the top.

Peach Beer and Double Chocolate Stout

While waiting to check out my rum and gin at the local Kwikee Liquee Mart the other day, I was eying bottles of beer and ale and stuff there by the register. Sort of like candy bars at the grocery. I ended up picking up two products I haven't tried before.

The first is Lindeman's Belgian peach beer. According to the bottle (12 fl oz; I think the bottle weighs more than the beer), they add peaches after the first fermentation, creating a second fermentation.

It's not a bad beer, not very potent, with a fairly mild peach flavor. I'd consider using it in a cocktail before I'd drink it straight again, but if you like peaches, it's good.

The second is Young's double chocolate stout. This one packs a little more than a pint, using both chocolate malt and dark chocolate.

I'm not a big stout, guiness, dark ale fan. This one was just OK to my taste buds. I poured some of it over a roast I cooked in the crockpot this afternoon while I was putting up Xmas decorations. (Holiday decorations, I should say; 1 menorah amidst the Xmas trees.)

I used a strange assortment of spices and veggies (sweet paprika, herbs de provence, fennel, cinnamon stick, pearl onions, cherry tomatoes, large green olives), and then I got invited over to friends for supper. By the time I got home, the roast was literally falling apart. So I poured in a container of veggie stock, got out the stick blender and shmushed everything up, and ended up with something halfway between beef mush and mystery meat. It'll be good on potatoes or rice.

More Fa la la's

Before I put the falernum bottle away, I tried a couple more cocktails with it.

The first one is a recipe from Internet Cocktail Database, called a Rum Swizzle. It's pretty easy: 2 to 1 white rum (I cracked open a new bottle of Ronrico, which I hadn't tried before), 1/2 oz falernum, 1 dash bitters.

This isn't bad. It doesn't taste overwhelmingly 'rummy' and has a nice combination of lime and spice flavors. You could probably scale back the falernum a little more to 1/4 oz so its flavors are a little more subtle. But on the whole it's a nice, smooth cocktail.

The second cocktail I got somewhere off the web, maybe ICD again: 1 1/2 oz gin (cracking open a small bottle of New Amsterdam to try it), 1/2 oz falernum, 1 spoon Rose's, 1 spoon plain ol' 2H and 1O, dash of lime juice (yup, in addition to Rose's), and a couple dashes of Peychaud's bitters.

This was my favorite of the falernum cocktails. The falernum blended just right, and it had just the right amount of lime, even with the double dose. New Amsterdam smelled great when I opened the bottle, and based on my first drink with it here, I prefer it to Calvert's, which I've been using lately. Whatever gin you use, a good cocktail.


At the beginning of this year I'd bought a bottle of Fee Brothers falernum, but I don't think I even opened it. When I was in Chicago a couple months ago, I spotted a bottle of velvet falernum, made in Barbados with white rum, and I thought, boy, this has got to be better than the non-alcoholic stuff!

I've had a few days in my calendar where I've been caught up on its recipes, so yesterday I decided to mix up a couple cocktails using falernum. The first was one off Internet Cocktail Database called the Royal Bermuda cocktail.

This calls for 1 3/4 oz Barbados rum, which I didn't have on hand but I've actually seen locally, unlike most 'exotic' rums, so I used rhum agricole instead, 1/2 oz lime, 1/4 oz cointreau, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 oz falernum.

Before I started, I took a couple swigs of falernum to see what the good stuff tastes like. Sips, I mean. I immediately tasted cloves. I like cloves in baking and on a ham, so this was a nice surprise in a liqueur. Also lime. The bottle says falernum also has almond flavoring, but I didn't catch that when I tasted it.

This cocktail has so much going on that frankly I didn't taste the falernum. You probably could have left it out and never known. Rum cocktails aren't my favorite, but this one isn't bad, with a little more complexity than a lot of rum cocktails.

For a second drink, I decided to go with something simple where I could taste the falernum, so I poured a little in a glass with ice and topped with the dregs of a bottle of Absolut Mandarin.

The cloves and lime go well with the orange vodka. I needed to stir this up a little better, because I got more cloves as I went deeper into the glass. Another ingredient, like bitters maybe or a good gin, would have made the cocktail even better. Even brandy or cognac perhaps.

I tried again with regular vodka and falernum. This time I learnt a lesson: a little falernum goes a long way. I poured too much in this drink, and the cloves were overpowering. (And I even stirred it up enough.) I took a few sips and dumped the rest.

But in general, falernum - the real stuff - is a great ingredient (if you like cloves). Just keep the cocktail simple.

More Bourbon - And Brandy Too

Another bourbon drink from my calendar (I jumped ahead a couple days for this one) is 2 to 1 bourbon to creme de cacao with a splash of lemon.

I'm not a big chocolate fan; I only tend to like the really good stuff, dark chocolate in particular. This drink isn't bad if you like chocolate. Godiva or another chocolate liqueur would probably work just as well. For a sweetened bourbon drink, though, my grape juice with bourbon from a few days ago was better.

The second cocktail, jumping even farther ahead in the calendar (I'm almost done! Woo hoo!), is equal parts bourbon (I'm using Jack) and brandy (Korbel) with a half ounce of Grand Marnier and a splash of lemon.

Did you know GM corks crumble? (Bailout!) And pliers don't work too great to twist 'em out. But needle nose ones will push the cork into the bottle, then you just strain off the GM into a jar and appoint a bar czar.

Anyway, this drink's not too bad either, but not my favorite. I like brandy in the French (Whichever No.) cocktail with champagne, but in general brandy should be sipped on its own, not used as a mixer. The GM and lemon blend well together with the brandy and bourbon, though. A good drink for a chilly winter evening.

Long island Iced Tea

I think it's a strange time of year to be making a Long Island Iced Tea, but that's the recipe my cocktail a day calendar featured a few days ago. Tonight I set out to make the first one I've ever made, and the first one I've drunk in longer than I can remember - at least 10 years.

Many moons ago, like 20, I got very smashed on LIITs one summer Sunday afternoon, so I remembered that they're more lethal than they taste.

According to Wikipedia, the LIIT is a fairly recent concoction, invented in the late 1970s by a bartender in the town of Babylon, Long Island. I might have guessed a bar called Babylon on Fire Island, but OK, I'm sure Ina Garten has given it her seal of approval and had her hubby or one of her entourage of male friends drive her back to the manse. (BC is about my favorite Food Network chef. Head and shoulders above a certain very loud demi-grand dame from several hundred miles down the coast.)

LIITs are pretty simple to make. The basic recipe is equal parts vodka (I used Absolut), gin (Calvert's), tequila (reposado), white rum (10 Cane), triple sec or cointreau, and lemon juice, topped with Coke. My calendar makes a couple tweaks in this recipe. In addition to the triple sec or cointreau, she calls for another equal part orange juice, and instead of lemon juice, lime juice, with a lemon wedge squeezed in at the last minute. I made a further adjustment and replaced the cointreau with Licor 43, hoping to give it a bit of a vanilla Coke flavor.

OK, so I did all that. And I took about 4 sips and said, this isn't a LIIT like I remember it. Of course, I probably don't remember nos. 2 through however many very clearly. In this one, I could taste the OJ through the Coke. And I couldn't taste any vanilla (but Wikipedia says the Coke is just for color anyway).

Now, I may not remember what those summer afternoon LIITs tasted like, but I'm pretty sure I didn't taste OJ in them. I think my calendar author grew up suckling mimoas or screwdrivers, but I'm over her citrus fixation. I like citrus, but not a Neely Family kitchen container full of limes and lemons (and they use those up fast enough to keep them fresh between making out on the kitchen island? sure)

So I dumped it out and tried again. This time I used the recipe on Internet Cocktail Database. I skipped the OJ, still used my Licor 43 instead of their triple sec, added their 3/4 oz simple syrup, but skipped their ounce of lemon juice and just squeezed in a wedge at the end.

This one started out very sweet, but I think I didn't stir it up enough. I was about to give up on it too but kept drinking, and it got better. (No kidding.) If I made it again I'd add at least some lemon juice, and maybe skip the simple syrup. Even if I used triple sec instead of the Licor 43, that would be plenty sweet, and Coke is awfully sweet anymore. (You don't think I'm making these with the Diet stuff, I hope.)

Maybe in 10 years or so I'll make another one. Or have an expert mixologist make me one and show me how it's done.

Bourbon Drinks

I had a bourbon drink over the weekend and one in my calendar today, so I combined them for a mini- balmy winter evening bourbon fest.

The first one was easy: squeeze a lemon wedge in a glass with ice, a couple ounces of bourbon (I'm using Jack), top with ginger ale (Stirrings - not my favorite, but what's on hand). A good drink. I'm a big ginger ale fan anyway, and the citrus is just enough. I'd order this one out.

The one for today is just a little bit harder: lemon wedge squeezed in an ice-filled glass, then half ounce of lemon juice, half ounce of Southern Comfort, and 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon shaken up, poured in the glass, topped with chilled club soda.

I'm not a big fan of topping perfectly good liquor with club soda. (Remember my story about the Chicago restaurant where the bartender didn't understand why I didn't want my Campari and gin topped with soda). It too often dilutes the flavors, it doesn't open them up. I am a big Southern Comfort fan - usually just on ice - so this drink appealed to me.

It's an OK drink, though it did taste a bit watered down. Too much citrus, but I've come to expect that from the author of this calendar. I might reduce the bourbon to 2 ounces and up the SC to a full ounce to add more sweetness. But any drink with SC in it is bound to be good.


Earlier this week the New York Times ran an interesting article on 'schools' of bartending. I guess I'd say I'm a member of the minimalist school: 5 ingredients or less, no unnecessary fruit, keep the flavors simple and straightforward.

They mentioned a cocktail that I hadn't heard of and hasn't been in my calendar this year: Aviation. It's pretty simple: 2 parts gin, 1 part lemon juice, and a dash or two of maraschino liqueur.

I mixed up one tonight (I'm using Calvert's gin - not my favorite, but I hate to let it go to waste). I used 2 oz gin, 1 oz lemon juice, and a drizzle of maraschino. The lemon looked like it would make the drink a tad citrusy for my taste, so I added a teaspoon of simple syrup.

Not a bad cocktail. It is on the lemony side, though the slight maraschino notes are nice. And I don't think I needed the simple syrup.

Internet Cocktail Database lists a variant that looked interesting, so I tried it too: 1 part bourbon to one part grape juice.

Now, tell me how that's a variant of gin, lemon juice, and maraschino. It's in another part of the solar system. But I was intrigued.

I bought some red globe grapes. I wanted purple grapes, but the nearest grocery didn't carry them, and I didn't want to use white/green grapes. Juicing grapes in my juicer turned out a bit messier than I'd anticipated, but I got a couple ounces or so of juice.

This wasn't a bad drink at all. (For the bourbon I used Jack.) I liked it a lot. It's simple, and the fresh grape juice adds a subtle sweetness and just a tad of fruitiness to the cocktail. Regular Welch's or whatever commercial grape juice would make it too sweet, like spiked communion wine in a plastic cup in a Kentucky Baptist church. Store-bought unsweetened grape juice might be OK.

It's a good drink and easy to make; give it a try sometime.

Metropolitans, Part 2

Since I tried the imitation Cosmo metropolitans the other day, I decided to mix up a few of the real thing.

The 'real' metropolitan is equal parts brandy and sweet vermouth, bitters, and a sprinkling of sugar or drizzle of simple syrup. So sort of a cross between a Manhattan and a sidecar, without the citrus flavors (though you could use orange bitters for that).

I started with a Punt e Mes metropolitan, since I like that better than regular sweet vermouth. In all these I'm using Korbel brandy. This version wasn't bad; the Campari bitter-herbs flavor came through maybe a little much but it was drinkable.

The second one was made using Dubonnet with the brandy. BTW, Dubonnet has a great web site at If the Queen of England likes it, you should too. This one wasn't bad; maybe the Dubonnet was a little too fruity.

Last was the real thing, with regular sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi). As I've said before, I'm not a big sweet vermouth fan. This one's OK, but without as much personality as the first two. You might as well just drink a Manhattan for about the same flavor.

If I get industrious, or thirsty, tonight, I'll dig out my bottle of Lillet rouge from the back of the fridge where it's been lying neglected and try a version with that, and report back. Or maybe Fernet Branca?


Today I moved up (or is it down?) from cosmopolitans to metropolitans. Sort of like metrosexuals, who I guess don't exist anymore because you never read about them. Sensitive and it waxes, if not poetic.

The recipe in my calendar for today is the vodka version, not the more standard metropolitan that calls for brandy, sweet vermouth, and bitters.

My calendar specified black currant vodka, about the only flavor I don't have (I don't have Peppar either, and that one would actually be useful to have around), so I substituted Absolut Raspberry with the cointreau, cranberry juice, and lime. I cut the lime from 3/4 oz to 1/2 oz, knowing my calendar author's love for puckering up.

I don't know if it was the Absolut Raspberry or what, but this was about the thinnest tasting cocktail I've mixed up all year. It didn't have much flavor at all. I took a few sips and gave up on it.

I tried a second time with a recipe of my own devising: regular vodka (about 1 3/4 oz), creme de cassis (a little under 3/4 oz), triple sec (3/4 oz), cran juice (3/4 oz), and a drizzle of lime.

This was much better, packing a lot more flavor. Surprisingly, the lime still came through the strongest. Maybe Rose's would have worked better. But besides that, all the flavors blended nicely into one non-OJ, juicy tasting drink.

The last one I tried was a Mandarin Metropolitan off the internet: 1 1/2 oz Absolut Mandarin, a full 2 oz cran juice, and a half ounce Rose's lime juice. I like cran juice, so this appealed to me in theory. In reality t was just a tad too orangey for my taste; maybe a mix of Mandarin and unflavored vodkas would work better. But not a bad drink if you like yours sweet and fruity.


So today I launched into Cosmo week on my calendar. I've never been interested very much in vodka-based martini glass drinks, though I love Sex and the City. Or just Sex. Or just Cities.

My usual rule is 2 drinks a day. Per Men's Health, and per keeping the calorie count down. Today I broke my rule. Four drinks. Oh, well, it's winter (almost). Who wants to be aware of what's going on, or not going on, outside?

Number 1 was the Cosmo recipe in my calendar for yesterday: equal parts citrus vodka (I'm using Tanqueray for all of these; it was on sale) and Cointreau, a little less lime juice (1 oz), and a couple splashes of cran juice (I have a bottle of cran-pom).

Ugh. This confirms my opinion that the author of my cocktail a day calendar enjoys sucking lemons evenings. This was so citrusy. Certainly not a drink that Sarah Jessica and the girls (and Kim) would sit around sipping while eying guys' butts.

Drink no. 2 was from Internet Cocktail Database, my no. 1 internet drink site: 1 1/2 oz citrus vodka, 1 oz triple sec, 1/2 oz lime juice, a couple splashes of cran. This was better than no. 1, but I thought the triple sec was weak; it didn't bring much flavor to the party.

A nap with a visiting border collie after these two, and then onto no. 3, my version of no. 2: 1 1/2 oz citrus vodka, 1 oz Cointreau, 1/2 oz Rose's lime juice, a couple splashes of cran-pom. This was my favorite of the day. Just enough citrus but not too much, and the Rose's brings some needed sweetness.

Last, another drink from my calendar: 2 oz citrus vodka, 1 oz cran, Cointreau, lime juice. It called for an ounce of lime juice, but I knew that would make me pucker up again, so I just used 1/2 oz (regular, not Rose's).

This one was OK, maybe still a tad tart. Rose's might have worked better. I could taste the lime, and I think the pom in the cran-pom made it just a little too bitter. I love cranberries in general and cran juice, so this one (with Rose's) would probably be the one I'd drink if out slumming with Miranda in the midst of the urban tempest.

"Russian Qualude"

The first part of this week is Cosmo Days in my calendar. I didn't feel like a Sarah Jessica cocktail tonight, so I jumped ahead to Thursday for a 'Russian Qualude'.

The cocktail is equal parts (I used 1 oz each) vodka (I used Absolut Vanilla), Frangelico, and Irish Cream (I used Carolans).

For all the great flavors in this cocktail, I didn't think it had much oomph in terms of taste. The separate flavors seemed diluted instead of well blended. I'm not sure what you could do to improve on it (Nocello maybe instead of Frangelico? Use nonflavored vodka?), but I think this drink has potential, given a little tweaking.