Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Peach Basil Cocktail

Peaches are one of my favorite local summer fruits. Bourbon is one of my favorite liquids of all time. Basil is one of the best herbs on the planet. Shit. Might as well whirl them all up together and stick 'em in a beverage:

Peach-Basil Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon
3 ounces peach-basil puree (see below)
splash of club soda
basil leaf

Shake bourbon and peach-basil puree with ice. Serve unstrained on the rocks with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a basil leaf.

Peach-Basil Puree

2 fresh ripe peaches (or try nectarines!)
8 fresh basil leaves, torn up
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (half sugar, half water)

Puree ingredients in the blender. Drink it straight, drink it with club soda, drink it with whiskey. Drink it.

We aren't just locavores, we're loca-whores. We can't get enough.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Review: Michael Collins Irish Whiskey

The companies that send you free liquor as a marketing ploy are typically the underdogs. I don't expect anyone to show up asking me if I want to taste-test Jameson. Something about the popular kids draws excessive attention from fans and wanna-bes. Are the popular kids pretty? Do they have more money, better clothes, their own cars? Do they have sex with everyone?

Behind the popular crowd are the less recognized but often just as talented kids. Michael Collins Irish Whiskey is in this latter group. Some people - the aware ones - say, "Oh, sure, he's a pretty good guy." They know who he is even if they don't hang out with him much. The self-centered ones stare blankly. "Michael who? Is he that quiet dude in my gym class?"

What the other kids don't know is that Michael Collins is pretty smart. He's going to grow up to be a damn good Irish Whiskey, while the popular girl drops out of school pregnant, works at Dunkin' Donuts, and marries the football star who goes bald prematurely and gets really fat.

Yes, Michael Collins has something.

After we drank most of the bottle a sip at a time, Leah made good on her promise to actually create a cocktail, where Michael Collins gets to mingle with a very nice girl:

Michael and Rosemary

2 1/4 ounces Michael Collins Irish Whiskey
1 ounce rosemary-maple syrup (see recipe below)
1 orange wheel (1/4 inch thick)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
sprig of rosemary

Muddle all ingredients, using only 1/2 orange wheel. Add ice. Garnish with rosemary spring and other half of the orange wheel.

Rosemary Maple Syrup

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
6 inch spring rosemary

Put maple syrup and water into a saucepan. Remove rosemary leaves from sprig and discard stem. Break leaves into pieces, and add to maple syrup mixture. Bring to a quick boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain.

Give us a week or two, and we'll have some Michael Collins stocked at the Lounge for you to try in some cocktails.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

AlleyArt: Drunken Fishbowl

Felicia's latest AlleyArt installation at the Lounge will convince you that trash CAN be converted to treasures. The Drunken Fishbowl by Emily Benning is an "underwater" installation of fish constructed with 99% recycled materials. Look closely and you can identify Gimme Coffee bags, bottle caps, Christmas tree ornaments, newspapers, bottles, beer cans and bubble wrap. The show is up until August 31. Here are some pics in case you are not local folk:

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mixology Monday XLI: Vodka Is Your Friend

Guess I hit a nerve with this one. Blood pressures are soaring on blogs everywhere! Most of those posting a blog on this month's Mixology Monday topic, "Vodka is your Friend," took this opportunity to vent their distaste for vodka, with a "yeah, but" recipe added after their cathartic venting session. That will be $90 for your cocktail therapy. Now pass the vodka.
Thank you to everyone who participated in MxMo XLI! Before I get to the round up, as I sit and type at my friend's lake house, I have no reservations about sharing with you that I am sipping a Grey Goose orange and tonic as I write. I love the stuff. I also love bourbon. And gin. And cachaca. And scotch. Since I have been drinking, eating and swimming for three days, credit for my own Mixology Monday cocktail goes to my partner Leah Houghtaling, who created the State Street 75 a few years ago, and our bartender Lil' Claire who added some blueberries to one yesterday and modeled her drink for the photo op.
Blueberry State Street 75
1.5 ounces citrus vodka
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice
8 blueberries
champagne or sparkling wine (we used Cava)

Muddle the blueberries.
Add vodka, simple syrup and lemon juice.
Top with champagne and a few more blueberries.

And now for the ROUND UP of all the excellent MIXOLOGY MONDAY vodka posts:

Chris at Urbane, Not Cosmopolitan is our first contestant on “Vodka is your Friend.” Come on down, Chris! Chris overcame his anti-vodka, anti-cosmo manifesto with a trip to his local hooch manufacturer, the Great Lakes Distillery, where Chris discovered Rehorst Citrus and Honey Vodka. He created Milwaukee Lemonade and the Fiery Citrus Cocktail. His experimentations left him humbly admitting that vodka may have earned a place in his spirit world.
MxMo newbie Daniel of Gin, Not Vodka has another "this-not-that" website name that lets you know his feelings on the “vile spirit." Lucky for him, kissing the butt of the MxMo host is not a requirement for inclusion in the Mixology Monday club. Daniel uses lapsang souchong-infused scotch with vodka to create two unique drinks, Smoke on the Water and the Lazy Cocktail.

Also new to Mixology Monday - though not so new to the pain of vodka – Herr Grau has great plans to get rich, like the rest of us cocktail bloggers already have, from his Look Alive Contest blog. He writes, “All alcohol is your friend.” He then proceeds to give the funniest explanation EVER of why vodka, in particular, is your pal. I laughed my a** off. This is my new favorite blog!
Wodka ist unser freund! Jorg (imagine two dots over the "o") at DrinkMix earns cocktail points with me for arguing that while vodka may be relatively flavorless, it can still be quality. A man after my own glass. His Legends Cocktail with elderflower liqueur, cranberry, citrus fruits and citrus vodka is a refreshing interpretation of one of Dale DeGroff's concoctions. Click “weiterlesen” for an English translation of his post.
Jon of ednbrg offers another cocktail with an elderflower-citrus theme. Almost as good as his drink recipe is his MxMo description, "Mixology Monday is billed as the monthly online cocktail party, where our host chooses a theme and we rock up a couple of hours late, stinking of cheap wine and muttering something about “consumption”."

Tiare joins us from under A Mountain of Crushed Ice to tout the Bloody Mary. Her own New Orleans-style recipe reminds us that vodka is great for breakfast. Look at this picture – it makes me want to lick the glass (and drink, of course).
Can you be classy AND drink flavored vodka? Alpha Cook says yes. While I happen to know her drink of choice is bourbon with an expensive cigar back, she is not ashamed to admit she likes a vodka collins with Blueberry Stoli and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Ask her about the infamous Nat's Peach Fuzz Bubbly, too, next time you see her. Nat, I miss you. When are you coming home? I'm out of cigars.
The Cocktail Virgin, er, Slut, gives a recipe for a Sputnik: Russian vodka with Fernet Branca and lemon juice. I have not tried it yet, but it sounds like a perfect playmate for my lake house antics and this hot weather.
Pantagruel also used vodka to tame the wild Fernet Branca, in a cocktail called the Vilnius Nastavnic. At no extra cost to you, Pantagruel threw in a second cocktail, the Surrender Monkey, because who doesn’t love a monkey?
Beers in the Shower blogger Kevin offers his Piece de Resistance: vodka, Cointreau, Benedictine and orange bitters.

The Cocktail Chronicles posted a cocktail recipe that used Benedictine as well, plus vodka and Angostura bitters. It was a big day yesterday at the Cocktail Chronicles: August 10, 2009, MxMo XLI, will now be forever remembered as the day Paul added a -gasp- vodka category to his blog.
Similarly, Stevi at Two At The Most gave us a version of the Mike Romanoff Cocktail: vodka, Cointreau, bitters and apricot liqueur. I actually have all these ingredients in my liquor cabinet and I can pronounce them. Good deal.
Let's pause for a minute to mention the vodka blog posts that, in fact, contained no vodka. Michael at My Aching Head rebelled with a Russian Pirate, a White Russian with rum replacing vodka. The Dude might not approve, though The Dood probably would.

After renouncing “vodka is your friend” as a diabolical theme, DrinkSnob at Liquor is Quicker laments that she has no vodka in the house and a bad case of F.O.M.O (Fear Of Missing Out) on MxMo. She concocts the “highly informative and well-reasoned” Churchill Martini which contains no vodka.

John the Bastard also left the vodka out. No, I’m not calling him a bastard because he has decidedly proclaimed vodka is his enemy; that’s the name of his blog. And John hates vodka. He posted a few cocktail recipes based on both rum and gin.
Speaking of The Dude, Scomorokh at ScienceOfDrink posted multiple variations of both White and Black Russians.
And speaking of The Dood, Rum Dood graciously accepted that vodka has a place in our liquor cabinets beside (behind) the rum, and posted an amazing recipe for a Coriander Kiss, which contains vodka infused with cilantro, honey and peppercorns.
Kevin from the Dallas Drinks Examiner says that while vodka is “devoid of flavor” it lets other ingredients shine. His spiffy Tuxedo Cocktail contains vermouth, absinthe, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters alongside vodka.
At Food On The Brain, Jessamyn complains that she can't work out her relationship with vodka, even with some Pernod and an orange twist, raising the universal question: why can’t we all just get along? Jessamyn gets an "A" for effort.
Vidiot at Cocktailians almost spilled a drink on the computer when the CAPTCHA for posting a MxMo comment was “Palin.” I had nothing to do with it, Vidiot, unless the other word in the CAPTCHA was “Good-bye.” Inspired by good ol' Trader Joe’s, Vidiot created a green-tea-meets-cranberry-lillet concoction.
An appreciation of vodka came from the Spirits Review blog post titled “In Praise of Vodka”, which sounds like the name of a morning-has-broken poem or an inspired symphony. Their advice? Just chill it and drink it. A second post on Spirits Review was more elaborate, making a sour drink using Bee Vodka (honey-based) from Hidden Marsh Distillery, right near me in Seneca Falls, NY. Why haven't I been there yet?
Steve and Paul at Cocktail Buzz also have nice things to say about their buddy, vodka, aka "water with a kick." The Universe cocktail includes Midori, pistachio liqueur and pineapple juice. I think I need a pink sundress and a straw hat to sip this one.
And pink can be found at Bubbly Girl. Maria mixed up a Rose Guava Pinky for this month's MxMo, a floral herbal fruity drink made with Pinky Vodka. This cocktail sounds right up my alley since I like the flavors of the garden.
Thinking of drinking? Head on over to Thinking of Drinking for a garden-based caipiroska with cucumber, lime and fresh oregano. Sonja is not ashamed to say, "Vodka still rules." I adore this cocktail.

Andrew at Cask Strength does not love vodka per se, rather he sees vodka as a teaching tool with an ulterior motive. Specifically, he recommends giving someone a bag of lemons and a zester so they can practice zesting. The rind goes into a bottle of vodka (which he has no use for otherwise), and viola! Limoncello, and you are now a zester pro.
Over on eGullet Spirits and Cocktail forum, the discussion this week centered on beets and sheets. Chris Amirault's Borsch Belt reminds us that if you can grow it, you can drink it.
eGullet alchemist Toby wins the prize for the drink with the most ingredients. His Navy Sheets has 11 separate ingredients, including berries, aperol, Lillet blond and St. Germaine.

Other attention-grabbers on eGullet include the Vice (chili-infused vodka), Gilded Cage, and Smoking Martini (vodka, Laphroig, absinthe, strawberries, and more).
My Life On The Rocks blogger Lance came in a close second with 8 intriguing ingredients in his Kingyo No Funi, such as cocoa infused vodka and Scrappy’s chocolate bitters. What the heck does Kingyo No Funi mean?

The Opinionated Alchemist has an opinion: If you want to showcase vodka, you should be able to do it without using a flavored vodka and without infusing it. The Alchemist's solution? The Nihonshu Martini, a vodka-sake martini with a dash of bitters. As sake continues to surge in popularity, interest will keep increasing in sake cocktails.
The Bar Blog/Barkeep Mister Matt G. answers the question "Is vodka your friend?" with a resounding, "Yes it is." His drink of the week is a cooler with vodka, gingerale and acai blackberry syrup.

Christian of Cocktailwelten wrote to me, "Vodka is not my friend but Cosmopolitans are OK." I’m not sure what the rest of the blog post says 'cause it’s in German, but I'll bet his drink recipe contains vodka.
Chuck at Looka!, self-proclaimed God Emperor of Procrastination, sent a late entry so as not to ruin his reputation. He implies vodka is just a phase that we’ve all gone through. However, it sounds like he is addicted to a Polish bison-grass vodka with which he made two cocktails. He wrote a wicked long blog entry, which is probably why he had to submit it late. An all-nighter and a half.
Jacob of Liquidity Preference also posted late. He took the most beautiful picture of his hibiscus tea and ginger liqueur cocktail, and while not technically a procrastinator, could be dubbed the God Emperor of Forgetfulness for posting but forgetting to let me know. Hey, I have that same coaster set.
Last but certainly not least, let us not forget to appreciate the simple vodka martini: Undertaking the Bar recommends chilled vodka with onion-stuffed olives and freshly ground black pepper. The excellent flavor of a good vodka is sure to shine through with this Peppertini.
Editor's Note 8/14/09: Late MxMo entry! A competitor for the God Emperor of Forgetfulness title, In Search of a Cocktail found a sweet drink for his girlfriend with Pinky Vodka, homemade grenadine and strawberries.
That's all, folks! Hope you were not too traumatized by this month's vodka theme. Stretching is good for you, and if you can't quite reach the vodka, there is always yoga. Everything is blurring together for me right about now, so if I missed anyone's posts, pictures or links, please let me know and I will correct it. Thanks for participating in Mixology Monday and we'll see you next month! In the in-between time, let's all follow each other on Twitter and subscribe to each others' blogs.

Now...I'm going swimming.

-amelia sauter aka Felicia

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Monday, August 10, 2009

MxMo Update

Mixology Monday
blog posts have rolled in, theme being "Vodka is your Friend." I'm excited to review and taste-test the recipes, some of which, in rebellious MxMo fasion, don't even include any vodka.

We are unexpectedly housesitting all week for some friends who live on Cayuga Lake. It's hard work to be kicking back so intensely, but in between beers and swimming, I will work on the round up of all your great posts.

Check back here tonight to see everyone's vodka creations, including mine, which I can get away with posting incredibly late, since I am in charge. Buwahahahaha! (evil laugh). I vow to not be corrupted by all this power.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bunny Mojitos

The mint grew wildly this summer. Because it only rained once in the Northeast, a downpour that lasted about two months, the voracious four-lined plant bug used the mint leaves as umbrellas rather than dinner. We have consistently been able to harvest two pounds of mint a week for the Lounge mojitos.

But why did nothing else in the garden seem to be growing? Besides the obvious lack of sunshine, Eesah the Lounge Dog discovered the culprit while we were picking mint one day and I heard him pick up a squeaky toy. At least I thought it was a squeaky toy, until I realized that baby bunnies squeal just like squeaky toys upon finding themselves in a dog's mouth. And there it was, in the thick of the mint bed: A rabbit nest.

Because it only takes a couple of weeks for rabbits to mature into hypersexualized teenagers, a Teen Mama Bunny was small enough to get through the garden fence. She had found the perfect place to raise a family, inside a protected area full of bunny food, safe from the dog (except when we picked mint) and other hungry four-footed creatures.

Eesah uncovered two more rabbit nests this summer, one under a bush and one in the lemon balm, which has resulted in an extensive graveyard at the edge of the yard; we've buried six babies to date. I didn't have the heart to disturb the rest of the babies and even went so far as to erect a fence around one nest to keep the dog out.

Destructive, yes, but baby bunnies are so damn cute and fuzzy, even in the garden.

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