Written in the Stars


The Zodiac Cocktail

Destiny? Fate? An excuse for every human foible?

That, my friends, are just some of the things folks find when they gaze up at the night sky.

Me? I have perhaps more than the average interest in astrology but I take it, like most things, with a few grains of salt and a whole lot of common sense.

(And, no, we’re not salting this martini. I made one exception, that was more than enough!)

What we are, is closing out this lovely romp through flavored-martini land with an ode to the stars, planets, and who knows what else out there in the vastness of space.

The Zodiac

1 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
1 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
3/4 oz Pomegranate Liqueur

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake until it’s cold as the far reaches of space. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

No garnish is needed–the inky depths of this drink speak for themselves. While not harsh–I would never give you a harsh drink, balance is important–this AlphaTini will positively take your breath away. Wait, did I say take? I mean it will snatch it from you like you’ve just been sucked out of an airlock.

And just like that sudden decompression, this drink will knock you ass over teakettle if you’re not careful. Testing a new cocktail a week, in addition to the occasional recreational drink, I have a pretty decent tolerance for booze, right? One quarter of a Zodiac–3 signs, if you will–and I was already feeling the effects, even after just having supper.

But, then, not all horoscopes are gentle…

# # #

Well, then! This week’s post has finished yet another Friday series here at Sips & Shots. After a week or two’s break I will be back with a delve into the world of white wines (just like our Meet the Reds mini-series way back when) and then we’ll get started on our next series (by the way, today’s cocktail was a hint, can you guess what the next series will be?).

But before we go, I wanted to be sure to tell each and every one of you how much I appreciate you reading, whether at Sips & Shots or over at Circle of Food. For every comment I receive here, there or on Facebook I always get a little thrill. As a thank you, I’d like to offer you this free download–a custom cocktail perfect for Valentine’s Day, courtesy of my other venture, the Character Cocktail.

Would you mind sharing your email address in return?

[download file=”http://www.sipsandshots.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/lovingcup.pdf” title=”Loving Cup Recipe Card”]

(For those who read via RSS feed, you’ll need to go to the actual post to get the download)

(I’d never sell your information, I just want to be able to track the downloads and be able to send out cocktail-related emails when something big is on the horizon. Once you’ve entered your email address the page will refresh, just scroll down back to this area and you should see “Your download is ready” and a button with the name of the file on it.)

To view the pdf you will need Adobe Reader, you can download it for free here.


She Was Afraid to Come out With the Vodka…


Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Martini

She was afraid to come out with the Vodka
She was as nervous as she could be
She was afraid to come out with the Vodka
She was afraid that somebody would see

Two three four tell the people what she bore

It was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Martini
That she served for the first time today
An Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Martini
So with the Vodka, she wanted to stay

This song has been dancing around my head for more than a week–the moment I realized this week’s letter-inspiration was Y, yellow was the first thought and this song arrived right on it’s heels.

I thought about filking the entire song but even I’m not that obsessed!

At any rate, it was the inspiration for this week’s cocktail and the polka dots made me think back to an early Character Cocktail: the Miracle Mocktail. It was based on the idea of Bubble–aka Boba–Tea, right down to the tapioca pearls. Perfect polka dots! And what is the yummiest yellow spirit around? Limoncello, of course.

Since I still had a bounty of tapioca pearls in the cabinet, this time I decided to tint them with molasses instead of black food coloring (blech!). While very tasty, they are definitely more brown than black, but I don’t see that as a true problem, all things considered. Black tapioca pearls are available online and from specialty shops, if you’d rather not bother tinting them yourself, and instructions for preparing them (via Bubble Tea Supply) are pretty simple.

The biggest quandary I had was deciding whether to give it such a long name or not!

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Martini

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Limoncello
3/4 oz Green Tea
1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
garnish: 1 Tbsp prepared tapioca pearls

Spoon the tapioca pearls into the bottom of a cocktail glass. Combine vodka, limoncello, green tea and schnapps over ice and shake like a bikini top on a water slide and strain into the waiting pearls. Watch them dance around a bit, then sip.

The green tea is a further nod to the Bubble Tea inspiration, but the peach schnapps were just for taste. The peach and lemon are such a good mix; this drink is divine. And there’s no need to sweeten the tea or to use my beloved vanilla vodka–that would just be sugar-overload!

Paging Professor X to the Cocktail Bar…


X-Ray Specs Cocktail

Alphabetical series always have a few trouble spots and X is a biggie. I suppose I could have gone for something musical with a xylophone-inspired cocktail, but I opted to go with the other tried-and-true x-answer: x-ray.

There’s seldom, if ever, a good reason to go in for an x-ray–it’s almost always for a broken this or a not-working that–but we’re not talking fractures, today. Nope, we’re taking a slightly different sort of look inside, this time into your mind.

Two X-people immediately spring to mind (not ex-people, as in no longer around, necessarily, but x-people as in their names are the only x’s I can ever remember): Xavier Roberts and Charles Xavier. And while a friend and I did stumble upon possibly the most inappropriate memorabilia in the gift shop of the former (I mean, really, whose idea was the Cabbage Patch Museum’s shot glasses, hmmm?), I think we’ll go with Professor X, of comic book fame, for this week’s inspiration.

Thanks to the glut of comic book movies that have made their way to the big screen in recent years you don’t have to get anywhere near a comics shop to know that Professor X is the telepathic head of the mutants who try and stay just this side of the law and hope for equality and acceptance with the rest of mankind. And the Professor isn’t just your average side-show (or reality-show) mind-reader; no, his powers pack quite the wallop.

Just like this week’s Alphatini.

X-Ray Specs

1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Raspberry Liqueur
garnish: lemon slice

Combine the gin, vermouth, lemon juice and raspberry liqueur in a glass over ice and shake with all the power of your mind–or arms, for us non-mutants–until cold as steel. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a center-cut slice of lemon.

A few notes: the London Dry Gin is a nod, of course, to the wonderful Jean Luc Picard Patrick Stewart who plays Professor X in the first few X-Men movies. The lemon wheel, with it’s spokes, is a blatant homage to his wheelchair. The rest of the drink is overall dry with a bit of sweet. Because even if you are fighting both misguided mutant supremacists and the scared masses of humanity, I’d like to think you find at least a little time for fun so you don’t burn out.

Just don’t have to many of them, or I can’t vouch for the state of your mind the next morning.

(And for those who might be curious, a single X-Ray Spec comes in at a mere 165 calories.)

Dreaming of Summer

Watermelon Crawl Martini

Watermelon Crawl Martini

Or, well, at least the foods of summer.

Especially watermelon.

It was all I could think of when I saw that this week’s Alphatini was to be w-inspired and, despite the unseasonableness of the craving it just would not be stopped!

Now, true, our summers aren’t exactly the most pleasant and, despite my cold-natured body I do prefer being able to start a fire or put on a sweater rather than sweltering (or running up the utility bill with constant a/c runnage). So I’ll happily settle for this light and fruity cocktail version of summer in a glass.

Watermelon Crawl

1 1/2 oz Watermelon Pucker
1 oz Vanilla Vodka
3/4 oz Apple Juice
garnish: salt and black sugar

Combine liqueur, vodka and juice over ice and shake it like a watermelon queen who just won her first crown. Strain into a cocktail glass that’s been rimmed with a mixture of sea salt and black-tinted sugar.

But wait, didn’t you once say

This Will Never Do...

Yes, yes I did. But as it’s not at all unusual, at least where I’m from, to put salt on slices of watermelon. So this time I’m making an exception and salting a martini rim. The black sugar (really a very dark green, as you’ll see if you get it wet) adds the look of watermelon seeds to the rim, which is a nice touch.

And if you’re not sure you’ll like the sweet and salty combo but want to keep the look of a rimmed cocktail, feel free to only rim one half of the glass.

The only other question I had as I designed and tested this cocktail, is whether the vanilla vodka would be too much. Well, watermelon pucker is pretty doggone strong and it stood up just fine to the vanilla vodka. But what was surprising is that I really liked the unflavored vodka version just as well. With regular vodka the watermelon is a bit brighter, while the vanilla blends everything together a bit more.

Either way you go, I don’t think you can go wrong with the Watermelon Crawl–unless you have too many, then it might just live up to its name!

Slow, Southern Style

Black Velvet Cocktail

Black Velvet Cocktail

I’m sure you’ve heard the edict that proclaims white shoes after Labor Day a fashion sin so large you’ll shame 4 generations back if you break it? Frankly, I think white shoes at any time of the year only forgivable if you’re a bride or a toddler in a pageant dress, but that’s just me and the fact that I’m traumatized by the 80s and all those blindingly white stiletto heels (with or without socks). *shudder*

What does this have to do with cocktails? I’m getting there!

Another, lesser-known “rule” is that velvet is fabrica-non-grata after Valentine’s Day. While I’ve yet to read when velvet-season officially opens, I’d hazard a guess that it coincides with the beginning of Christmas (by which I mean the day after Thanksgiving, not mid-October–orange velvet isn’t a good look on, well, anyone).

As we’re barely a month away from Valentine’s and we’ve come to the V of the Alphatini route (like a fork in the road, only a lot less solid), I figured velvet was as good an inspiration as any for this week’s cocktail.

Black Velvet

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Molasses
3/4 oz Coffee Liqueur
1/2 oz Chocolate Liqueur

Combine all ingredients over ice and gyrate until ready to swoon. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Alternately, pour into a lowball glass half-full of crushed ice for Crushed Velvet.

Now, were this not a martini series I probably would have used some of the commercially-available moonshine in this, or at least some dark rum, but I’m sticking by my rules on this one. Besides, I think the molasses adds an interesting touch that even rum wouldn’t give you. The color was incredibly important for this drink and I’m happy it was achieved through means other than massive amounts of food coloring.

Now maybe I can exorcise the song of the same that’s been running through my head all week!