Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dog of Christmas and White Cosmopolitan

We are open on Christmas eve from 4pm-midnight. If you want to mix up some holiday spirits at home to numb your nerves to the chaotic family antics, spike your eggnog, Felicia-style. Or try my friend Tony's White Christmas Cosmopolitan, as pretty as it is yummy:

White Christmas Cosmopolitan

1.5 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce triple sec or Cointreau
1/2 ounce sweetened lime juice - Don't use Rose's - our recipe is here.
1 ounce white cranberry juice
fresh cranberries

Shake all liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a few floating cranberries.

(Christmas card brought to you by Eesah the Lounge dog and Amelia's precious black Sharpie).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mixology Monday: Like That? You'll Love This!

This month's Mixology Monday is brought to you by eGullet, an online forum where people chat about culinary stuff. The theme, "Like That? You'll Love This!" sounds kind of like a game show: You could win this dishwasher, or you could win (dramatic reveal by blonde model) A BRAND NEW CAR!

I don't have a recipe for you. I'm sitting in my underwear in front of the blazing fire, drinking cheap red wine, and waiting for the lake effect snowstorm that seems to be arriving fashionably late this evening.

However, Leah, also drinking cheap red wine though more tastefully clad in a fluffy white bathrobe, would like to offer her two cents:

"You want a Midori sour? Try this shot of Bookers bourbon!"

During our particularly hair-raising psycho-busy bartending shifts this summer, doing shots of Bookers became a trend for the bartenders on duty (specifically, the Friday Happy Hour staff, but I'm not naming names), almost a game, to see who could throw it back fast and keep a normal expression as it set their mouth-throat-stomach-loins on fire. I must admit, a little Bookers certainly takes the edge off a rough shift.

A feat which a Midori sour cannot claim.

The statement, "Like Midori sours? Then you'll love a shot of Bookers!" is probably a lie, and is bound to be followed by cries and laments of angry mobs of villagers wielding torches and demanding the surrender of the monster.

Bring it on. Just give me a second to do a shot of Bookers first.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mixology Monday: Gin Sangaree

This month's Mixology Monday was a little tricky: write about a Forgotten Cocktail. Hey, wait a darn minute, Rock & Rye wiseguy. If I've forgotten a cocktail, how can I write about it? And frankly, since my brain turned 40 (which actually happened when the rest of my body turned 35), I can't even remember how to make a Sex on the Beach. Which is probably good, because those kinda suck.

Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender's Guide, 1974 edition to the rescue. Because I have an aversion to books that smell like wet basements, I don't have any old cocktail books in the house except this one, which belonged to my parents and is complete with their hand-written recipe notes on the inside front and back covers.

To find a "forgotten cocktail," the re-publication of which might change the world of modern spirits forever and provide me with fame and excessive wealth, I paged through the guide. It appears that there are only eight unique recipes in the entire book of 1000+ drinks, all of which contain one or more of the following ingredients in slightly differing ratios: Mr. Boston's brandy, apricot brandy, triple sec, vermouth, scotch, gin, grenadine and lime. And many of which deserve to remain forgotten.

I found one cocktail that I had not previously heard of that included an interesting non-Mr. Boston ingredient: The Gin Sangaree.

You know my distaste for history, so I'm sure you'll appreciate the huge 45-second effort I spent researching sangaree on the internet. Sangaree comes from the latin word for blood and refers to the inclusion of port wine in the cocktail.

With the holidays approaching, this cocktail choice serves up a hint of festive, with a shy dash of nutmeg weaving together the flavors of the port and gin. Because the Gin Sangaree is light, you can savor it before dinner as the port and nutmeg stimulate your appetite. Because it's slightly sweet, it is also effective as a post-dinner sipper.

But is it memorable? Well, I remember liking it last night. Ask me again in six months and we'll see.

Gin Sangaree

2 ounces Gin
1 tablespoon port wine
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water
club soda

Dissolve sugar in water by stirring, and add gin. Pour into highball glass filled with ice. Top with club soda, and float port wine on the top.

Authors note: F*ck floating the port. I can never make sh*t float. Which is probably my fault, but I'll tell you what, that port looked to me like it weighed as much as a f*cking rock compared to the soda-gin-sugar which was half-comprised of carbonated weightless air bubbles. And if you can float the port, I hate you. I'll bet you can light lemon zest on fire, too. Showoff.

For a roundup of the "Forgotten Cocktails" posted on renowned cocktail blogs all over the world today in celebration of Mixology Monday, visit Rock & Rye.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Cherry Margarita

"Where's the Grand Marnier?" I asked Leah.

"What Grand Marnier?" she said.

"The Grand Marnier you brought home last week."

Mid-margarita-fixing, I shuffled the bottles in our cramped home bar, a shelf packed with liquors, shakers and glassware, squeezed in the corner above the vacuum cleaner closet. The ice waited impatiently in the glasses on the kitchen counter, as did the tequila and lime juice. I just needed some orange liqueur.

"That was two weeks ago," Leah said.

"You drank the whole thing in a week?" I said.

"Two weeks," said Leah, as if it were less criminal than one.

Maybe ten days,
I thought.

Stranded and craving a margarita, I stared at the boggle of bottles and realized we only had one liqueur in the house: Finger Lakes Distilling's Cherry Liqueur.

"Try the cherry," Leah called from the other room as I pondered the bottle in my hand.

If you've ever tasted Finger Lakes Distilling's Cherry Liqueur, you know it's not like any other cherry-flavored spirit. The flavor is incredible, like crushed, fresh-picked sour cherries, with sugar added, because that's exactly how it's made. Think fresh cherry pie.

I had my doubts, though. Cherry in a margarita? Really?

Really. One sip and I was sold. I brought the recipe into the Lounge the next day and it became an immediate patron favorite, a contender for The Drink of The Year, if such an award exists.

Accidental cocktails are the best kind, an "I-never-would-have-tried-that-combination-and-I-see-Jesus'-face-in-the-ice" miracle kind of cocktail.
Cherry in a margarita? Yes, please. And I won't be mad at Leah for drinking all the Grand Marnier.

Ch-ch-ch-cherry Margarita

1.5 ounces tequila

3/4 ounce sweetened lime juice (don't be lame and use Rose's or we will insult your intelligence and make fun of you publicly to such a degree that your friends will become embarrassed to be associated with someone so lame and they will abandon you forever and you'll be lonely and drown yourself in substandard margaritas. Our fresh sweetened lime juice recipe can be found here.)

3/4 ounce Finger Lakes Distilling Cherry Liqueur

Fill a rocks glass with ice and add all ingredients. Shake. Salt rim if desired.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Impress Your Friends: Portable Ice Maker Review

Like Christmas in October, the NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker arrived on our front porch, snuggied cozily in a big, fat box. I’d like to call it by its full name throughout this entire review, if that’s okay with you. The NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker. I like saying that. It makes me feel powerful.

If you need an at-home countertop ice machine, then the NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker – fine, I’ll shorten it – the NewAir is a great choice.

And you DO need an at-home countertop ice machine. Here’s why:

How many times have you come home, expecting to be greeted by your wife (yep, I have a wife) with a martini and “How was your day, dear?” only to have her greet you instead with, “Goddammit, the ice cube trays are empty again and someone didn’t refill them!” (That would be you.)

In six to fifteen minutes this cute little ice machine can pop out enough fresh ice cubes for your drink; it produced our first batch in seven minutes flat. Ah, the glorious sound of ice cubes falling into the basket: clunkity-clunkity-clunk, a precursor to drunkity-drunkity-drunk.

If you plug it in the night before a party (or the morning of the party if you are going to be home to add water and transfer ice cubes into your freezer when the basket is full), the NewAir will easily harvest enough ice for a cocktail party of ten or so of your friends, unless they are total drunks, in which case you probably don’t want them at your house in the first place. Drunk people break things and throw up on things. It takes about four hours to fill the ice basket, and the manual says it can make up to 28 pounds of ice a day.

Pros: The NewAir sits on your counter, taking up about as much space as a bread machine. Incredibly quiet. Indicator lights let you know when to add water, and when the ice basket is full. You can choose the size of your ice cubes.

Cons: Our house is about the size of an elfin tree house, with limited counter space. Also, Leah opened the box when it arrived and said the protective blue plastic required an extreme amount of patience (which she doesn't have) to remove. However, everything else about the NewAir is awesome.

Warning: Don’t let your wife try to make lemonade-flavored and wine-flavored ice cubes in your ice maker. Bad, Leah! No!

If all you drink is ice water and sugary soft drinks, you are lame and you don’t deserve an ice machine. If you want to impress your friends with generous cocktails, or if you like to have ice cubes available consistently (like if you run a Bed and Breakfast), then you should consider the NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker. There. I said it again. Owning one will make you feel powerful.

The NewAir AI-100SS Portable Ice Maker is available at Air & Water for $199.95 with free shipping.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bibliochef Interview

Bibliochef, our pal at the blog Cooking with Ideas, posted an interview with me this week. Click here to learn how the heck Leah and I ended up opening a lounge; what Leah is thinking when she concocts those crazy cocktails; the connection between mixology, writing and cartooning; and where we choose to eat when we aren't working our fannies off at the Lounge.

The interview.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Battle of the Tonics

As bartenders, we often get the question, "Does the brand of tonic water matter?" That depends. Are you a fussy bitch?

I would never go into a person’s house or a bar and snub my nose at generic tonic water. I grew up with Schweppes and Canada Dry, and they taste just fine to me. I’m not implying that I was drinking gin and tonics as a child; I’m saying that when I was 21 years old, I wasn’t spending $6.69 plus a 30-cent bottle deposit on a four-pack of 12 ounce Q Tonic when a liter of Polar tonic water costs only $.89.

You get what you pay for. When you buy fancier tonics, you can revel in the fact that you are drinking hand-picked quinine, whatever that means, and no high fructose corn syrup.

That said, Leah and I did a tonic taste-test for all of you fussy bitches out there, making gin-and-tonics with the best gin we had in the house: Hendrick’s. Here’s our report:

Schweppes: So sweet and smooth, you could almost drink it without gin. Almost.

Polar: Sweet, but metallic and thinner compared to Schweppes.

Q: A hint of lemon, kind of like 7UP, with a bitter finish. Sweetened with agave syrup.

Stirrings: Lighter and cleaner. A hint of lemon rind, and also a bitter finish. Contains cane sugar.

Fever-Tree: Less lemon, not too sweet, allowing the gin’s unique personality to shine through. Cane sugar.

Our conclusion? If you are going to drink cheap booze, stick with cheap tonic. For high shelf booze, try Q or Stirrings to bring out the best in your liquor, or our favorite because it was less lemon-y, Fever-Tree. Try your own taste-test and see what you think. For the record, we found Fever-Tree at Wegmans, the Vatican of grocery stores.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AlleyArt: Beach Finds

Though Fall is in the air, Laura Robert's summer beach art is gracing Felicia's alley.

Created from garbage found on the beaches of Cape Cod, Laura's works embody the phrase, "One person's trash is another person's treasure."

The show is up until Tuesday, October 5. A closing reception will be held on Tuesday, October 5 from 5:00pm-6:30pm, and visitors can take Laura's artwork home with them that day. Felicia will be providing snacky-snacks.

(I call this one, "Race you to the water...")

Read more about Laura and her last show at Felicia's here:

Felicia's Atomic Lounge hosts outdoor sustainable alley art shows in the warm months, featuring a different artist every month. All artwork must be made with a minimum of 50% recycled/reused/repurposed materials. Proposal guidelines can be found here:

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Fernet Branca: The Pipe Cleaner

This month's Mixology Monday, hosted by Brown, Bitter and Stirred, requires a visit to an old frenemy of mine, Fernet Branca:

A FEW DAYS AGO, I noticed a foul odor in my kitchen. My first thought was that it was emanating from the refrigerator, from one of my partner Leah’s lacto-fermentation projects, which can thrive happily and stink up the fridge for months. But when I washed my hands in the kitchen sink, a dead cabbage smell wafted up to my nose, and I realized that something was rotting in the drain.

I hoped the stank in the sink would be easy to extinguish, but Leah’s efforts proved futile. Throughout the day, she poured various substances down the drain: boiling water, dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, bleach. As a last resort, she tossed in a splash of Fernet Branca. If that didn’t improve the bouquet, she said, then she’d take apart the pipes tomorrow.

Since I wrote about Fernet Branca in an earlier column, I’ve been surprised to find how many people enjoy drinking this medicinal, menthol liqueur; One friend fondly reminisced how his great-aunt used to give him a spoonful for tummy aches when he was a child, his introduction to the healing power of liquor. Many people were shocked to hear that I, a lover of all booze, was not in love with this particular amaro.

My distaste for Fernet Branca comes from a bias: I am not a fan of cooling herbs. Perhaps it’s from having Vicks VapoRub shoved up my nostrils on a tissue torpedo when I had a cold as a child. Or maybe I used too much Ben Gay on torn ligaments when I was a cheerleader, when the coach insisted we do full splits at tournaments even when our bodies insisted we couldn’t. (It’s true. I cheered, complete with feathered hair, fringy pom poms and a short-short black and gold skirt. You can stop laughing now). Mint ice cream and mint juleps are on my most-hated list. Even toothpaste challenges me. Right after I brush my teeth, I can’t drink a glass of water without gagging. The only exception to my mint aversion is mojitos, which I can easily consume in large amounts. The muddled limes seem to castrate the mint and leave it powerless to offend me.

Which got me thinking: Maybe I’d be able to tolerate Fernet Branca in a cocktail with lime.

When I mentioned this idea to Leah, she suggested I start with a base alcohol that could compete with the menthol, like a peaty scotch. For this drink, I chose cognac. I added lime juice and sugar, and topped it with a splash of club soda, because, gosh darn it, bubbles are fun, and the Fernet needed something on its side.

The resulting cocktail was palatable and refreshing. The lime did the trick, and I felt relieved to tell my friends that I, too, had found a way to appreciate the highly regarded Fernet Branca. I don’t love it, but like any alcohol, it’s all in how you mix it.

And miraculously, when mixed with boiling water, dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, and bleach, Fernet Branca cured the drain of its malodorous ailment.

Pipe Cleaner

1 ½ ounces cognac
¼ ounce Fernet Branca
¼ ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
club soda
lime wheel

Fill a shaker with ice. Add cognac, Fernet Branca, lime juice and sugar. Shake. Strain into a double rocks glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Be sure to visit Brown, Bitter, and Stirred for a wrap-up of other recipes that are brown, bitter, and stirred, which probably taste better than mine.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Amsterdam Gin

About a year ago, the booze marketers found us, which meant we found lots of booze on our doorstep. When the FTC law passed last fall commanding that bloggers disclose freebies, the liquid gifts stopped.

Bring it on, booze handlers. I was already telling everyone that you sent me free booze anyway because I thought I'd seem cooler to potential new friends. Besides, drunk though I may be, I'm always polite. No negative reviews on this blog; I only review products that we like. If your product is monstrously crappy, mum's the word.

That said, when New Amsterdam gin magically showed up on our porch after a dry spring and summer, we were pleased.

For the price, New Amsterdam gin is awesome. To our palates, it is smoother than Beefeater, Tanqueray and Bombay. And it's only $17 for a one-liter bottle. Heck, we can buy that with the nickels and dimes we saved up in our great horned owl bank. (It's a decoy AND a bank. Who knew? Not even the people who sold it to us).

If you've got the money for a bottle of Hendricks gin and you're trying to get laid, for god's sake buy the Hendricks. Otherwise, I'd suggest you give New Amsterdam a try.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mastodons and Martinis

You without a cocktail in your hand on a Friday night is like a fish out of vodka.

Felicia's will be slinging cocktails at the Lounge to the jazzy tunes of Wingnut this Friday, July 16 5:30pm-8:30pm, AND Felicia's will be making drinks at the Museum of the Earth for their "Mastodons and Martinis" reception 6pm-9pm.

The Museum's current temporary exhibit,
One Fish, Two Fish, Old Fish, New Fish: Exploring the Evolution of Biodiversity, will attract visitors throughout the summer and early fall, and “Mastodons and Martinis” creates an innovative way to discover the Museum in an adult social setting this Friday night.

Have a
“Coelophysis Cocktail” or a “Mastodon Martini” while wandering the Museum exhibits and snacking on tasty snacky snacks from our favorite food caterer, Serendipity. Cost of attendance for this exciting event is a $25 social membership fee per person. The membership fee covers entrance to the event, your first cocktail of the evening, hors d’oeuvres and advanced notice of other social membership events to be hosted by the Museum. For more information or to purchase your social membership visit the Museum of the Earth online at, or by phone at 607-273-6623 x11.

The Wingnut show at the Lounge is a free alternative, but no mastodons or coelophysis will be in attendance.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Black Raspberry Cocktail for the Fourth of July

Wild black raspberries ("black caps") are ripening just in time for the Fourth of July. The creekbed by our house is filled with the juicy things, plenty enough to share with the birds and the feral children who raid the bushes, the same children who were "playing" in the creek when it was at flood level. Apparently, they have no parents.

Our fingers are stained red with berries, and our mouths are happy.
Special thanks to Tree Gate Farm so we can spend more time mixing cocktails than picking berries.

Leave out the vodka to make this a virgin cocktail for wussies and kids.

Black Cap Sparkler

1 1/2 ounce vodka
1/8 cup black raspberries
1 mint leaf
1/2 lime wheel
2 teaspoons sugar
club soda
mint sprig

In a pint glass, muddle vodka, berries, mint, lime and sugar. Add ice. Top with club soda. Toss into a shaker and back once or twice to mix.

Happy Independence Day!

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

AlleyArt: Plants Under The Influence

In the warm weather, Felicia's hosts monthly sustainable outdoor art shows in the alley. Best known for her rugby antics and her Drunken Fishbowl AlleyArt show last year, Emily Benning is back with a new show that is up through the end of June:
Plants Under The Influence.

The alley has been transformed into a colorful jungle filled with flowers and plants constructed with 100% recycled and reused materials, including a boatload of packing peanuts and bubble wrap.

Come by to admire Emily's work, and drop us a line if you have a proposal for a recycled AlleyArt show. Guidelines can be found here.

Artist Emily Benning (front) smiles for the camera while patrons enjoy cocktails and snacks at the opening reception for Plants Under The Influence.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tom Waits, Boones Farm and Taxis

This month’s Mixology Monday is weird, and I’ve got a weird tale to comply with the weird task.

Andrew at Caskstrength
instructs us:
Let the bawdy, lovely, peculiar and obvious late nightlife inspire you to tell a favorite drinking tale while listening to, or being inspired by Tom Waits.

Summer in Ithaca is like a fairytale when you are twenty-two years old and recently set free from dungeons of the University. The hot sun combined with red wine, late nights and skinny dipping in waterfalls makes you think you can do anything.

I had found myself a damp, basement apartment on the hill, across from my favorite pub (for drinking what at the time was housebrewed porter), The Chapter House.

My best friend Antigone lived at a nearby anarchist vegetarian coop. It was Antigone who introduced me to Boones Farm and to the boy. Skinny and effeminate, with long golden curls, he looked like a prince in tan corduroys. He drove a taxi by day, a pursuit I found so romantic that I called the taxi company and got hired on the night shift.

Late one evening not long after I met him, the boy pulled out a guitar and started playing Tom Waits’ songs.

I don’t remember his name, if I kissed him, or what songs he played. I only remember how odd it was to hear gravelly growling and choking sounds coming out of his heart-shaped pink lips which had seconds before been graced by his girlish voice.

In that moment, I knew we would never be lovers.

I quit the taxi company before my first shift, and Antigone and I spent the rest of the summer drinking Boones Farm by the waterfalls.

The hazy memories are revived only by the sound of Tom Waits’ voice, a stranger’s request for late night drinking tales, and the occasional passing of a taxi.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Got Rose's?

“And please bring Rose’s lime juice. The father of the groom likes gimlets.”

This request came in an email I got about a wedding the Lounge is catering this summer. My answer is NO. Absolutely not. We will NOT bring Rose’s lime juice.

First, let’s take look at the ingredients in Rose’s: water, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated lime juice, sodium metabisulfite, Blue No. 1.

Rose’s doesn’t really taste like lime juice, and sodium metabisulfite makes my eyes swell shut. I’m not exaggerating.

Now let’s take a look at what’s in Felicia’s housemade sweetened lime juice: lime juice, sugar, water.

Which would you prefer?

To empower you to have a choice (at least at home), I’m giving you our recipe. Stop drinking crap, please. I expend way too much energy feeling sorry for you and I would much prefer to celebrate your enjoyment of quality cocktails. And take note: if you are allergic to preservatives like me, ReaLime and ReaLemon 100% juice concentrates contain sodium benzoate in addition to a couple of -ites. Squeeze juice from fresh limes (we found a great juicer at an antique market and it looks hip on the kitchen counter), or check the frozen section of your natural grocery for a preservative-free alternative.

Sweetened Lime Juice

2 cups lime juice
¾ cup sugar
½ cup water

Heat water in the microwave or on the stove until almost boiling. Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. (You just made simple syrup.) Let cool. Mix with lime juice. Your sweetened lime juice will keep a couple of weeks in the fridge.

For future reference, or if you want to make a smaller amount, the ratio of sugar to water in simple syrup is 3:2. In sweetened lime juice, the ratio of lime juice to simple syrup is 2:1.

Same goes for making your own sour mix. Don’t use that nasty stuff that comes pre-made in bottles unless you want to glow in the dark. Substitute lemon juice for lime juice and you’ve got homemade sour mix. It’s that easy.

Again, NO, I will not bring Rose's lime juice to your special event. I've got something much, much better for that gimlet.

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