AlcHOLidays | National Bluebird of Happiness Day | Pursuit of Happiness


Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you say? Notice that it’s only the pursuit of happiness we’re guaranteed, not the finding or attainment.

In the 1940 film The Blue Bird (starring Shirley Temple, speaking of drinks), the bird in question is given as a selfless gift, and then escapes. The moral being that the bluebird of happiness is always to be pursued, not captured. And from the 1934 song,

be like I, hold your head up high,
’til you see a ray of light and cheer

and so remember this, life is no abyss
somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness

Bluebird of Happiness, Harmati & Heyman

All this to say, September 24 (that’s this coming Monday) has become known as the National Bluebird of Happiness Day. Now, you can take that as a challenge to always look for the silver lining, to keep optimistic as the days get shorter and the weather turns brisk (which is a plus in my book), or to go out of your way to spread a little happiness for someone else; essentially being a bluebird of happiness yourself!

And if you’re into old movies but not feeling the Shirley Temple vibe, watch Hitchcock’s The Birds, instead. I’m certainly not going to judge what makes you happy.

Pursuit of Happiness Cocktail for National Bluebird of Happiness Day, September 24

Part of what makes me happy, of course, is creating fun cocktails for any and all reasons. Historically, there is a cocktail known as the Blue Bird, using either gin or vodka, triple sec (ptoo!) or curacao, and bitters. I suppose gin would make sense for the era (Vodka didn’t get a good foothold in the US until mid-century, after all), but my thought process was veering a bit more tropical, plus I’ve been wanting to use this new Denizen Aged White Rum from Holland (look for a full review forthcoming), so rum and blue curacao (of course) means pineapple isn’t very far behind. Then I decided to try and see what the difference would be between pineapple juice and pineapple soda. Just because.

Pursuit of Happiness

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Aged White Rum (like Denizen)
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
garnish of a slice of Pineapple with or without a little bluebird pick

Combine the juice, rum, and curacao over ice and shake til you’re feeling happy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Making little themed picks from a bird stamp, blue ink, and toothpicks is totally optional but fun!

So, I tried this both ways: with pineapple soda and pineapple juice. No surprise that the juice version won out, really, it’s only to be expected. The soda just didn’t have enough oomph to blend well and stand up to the two alcohols, while the juice gave the drink some body and you really got more pineapple flavor. Now, if you wanted to, I’m sure you could cut it half and half and be fine, but I was feeling more all or nothing last night.

And for those who might wonder if the Cruzan Vanilla Rum I reviewed a while back might not go lovely in this drink, it’s too sweet. I know, is that really possible? But yes. The aged white rum has depth without being harsh, the vanilla would be a bit cloying. That said, if you were inclined to combine the pineapple juice and the pineapple soda and then lace it with a bit of that Cruzan Vanilla Rum, what you would have would be more than a little reminiscent of pineapple upside down cake.

And there’s nothing wrong with that!

And because this is one of my favorite TMBG songs and actually has ties to the original Bluebird of Happiness (bluebird of friendliness, anyone?), I have to close with Birdhouse in Your Soul.

(Direct link for the Feed Readers: Birdhouse in Your Soul by TMBG)


Cosmic Cocktails | Libra | Tip the Scales


Tip the Scales cocktail, part of the Cosmic Cocktail series on Sips & ShotsOr, rather, don’t–your local Libra wouldn’t like that very much.

It’s no surprise that with a set of scales as a symbol, Libra is the Sun sign of balance. Equity. Justice.

When you consider that Libra is also our second air sign (the first was Gemini), you will not be surprised that we have another not-to-be-tied down sign going on here, specifically in the manner of decisions. Whereas Gemini loathe being tied down to anything, Librans are indecisive in everything BUT love–they fall hard, fast, and often and might be a little too eager to rush into permanent relationships. I think this is just another sign of their balance.

Either that, or it means having a permanent tie-breaker around.

Other names I considered for this week’s drink? The Fence-Sitter or Switzerland.

Not that Librans are neutral, they just are so very good at seeing both sides that they cannot ever pick one. So while they make great mediators, they can be lousy decision makers. Final answer? Not in this lifetime!

The thing about Libra, though, is while in anyone else this constant waffling might be tiresome or outright maddening, Librans also happen to be sweet and charming, and so very easy going, that those around them are willing to overlook what could be considered a major character defect is brushed away. People want to help the Libran make a decision, the Libran, in turn, showing their gratitude in any number of generous ways. This is also beneficial as your typical Libra does not like to be alone.

Tip the Scales

1 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Apple Juice
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1/2 oz Club Soda

Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and shake–no, stir–well, it’s really up to you, there’s nothing that says you have to shake it but if you do, make sure to evenly distribute the shakes over each shoulder to keep from over-exerting one side of your body. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

For this cocktail I’ve made super-sure (to the edge of OCD) to keep the balance just right. I mean, I’m always striving for a well-balanced cocktail but this one takes the cake! There’s equal measure of spirits and mixers, equal measures of clear liquids versus colors, equal of sweet versus savory/neutral flavors and, just for a bit of added fun, we’ve got the comparing of apples and oranges!

Granted, it’s not all rosy and light in Libra-ville. The need for affection and company can bring out a social-climbing streak, and their frequent changes of mind can have them seeming rather hypocritical. (Wait, can you really change a mind that was never made up in the first place?) And that seeing-both-sides habit can stretch out a decision until it’s too late to be made–or someone else made it for them. But as long as it was a fair decision, they won’t quibble too much.

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=”” 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.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forest


When contemplating this week’s letter, the first thing to come to mind was Frangelico–the wonderful hazelnut liqueur that comes in a bottle shaped like a Franciscan monk, complete with a rope belt. But a single ingredient a cocktail does not make.

So while supper simmers I have to ponder what else to put with the nutty Friar. Oooh, Friar? As in, perhaps, Friar Tuck? As in Robin Hood? This calls for some serious research via my DVD library. And I’m not talking about the Kevin Costner version, either. My favorite Robin Hood is the animated one from 1973.

But how was this going to turn from cartoon into cocktail?

Sherwood Forest Cocktail

Well, we already had the Friar covered, so I’m leaning sweet. Vanilla Vodka for the lovely Maid Marian gives us a good base for our cocktail, and puts the love-interest front and center. Somewhere along my wandering pondering I decided on blue curacao but I can’t remember for who or why, though the hazelnut-orange combination makes me want to keep it. Let’s just say it’s for Little John, voiced by Phil Harris who also voices Baloo the bear in the Jungle Book. Baloo, B-lue. Close enough for me!

But, oh, we’ve got three great alcohols, here, what ever are we going to combine them with? You know I need a non-hooch mixer to balance these heavy hitters and we still haven’t paired up Robin Hood yet…

I’ve got it!

Sherwood Forest

1 1/4 oz Vanilla Vodka
3/4 oz Frangelico
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
3 oz Ginger Beer

Combine vodka and both liqueurs over ice and shake like the “safety’s on ol’ Betsy.” Strain into a chilled martini glass and top with ginger beer, letting the carbonation stir things up for you.

The finished drink is a bright green/teal color. If that doesn’t appeal to you, feel free to substitute Cointreau for the blue curacao, but not triple sec–it’d be too bossy. (A cherry speared with a little wooden arrow would make a fantastic garnish, don’t you think? Fresh out of both, I went with an classic-style cocktail glass that’s actually from the Walt Disney Signature collection.)

So, how did I get from Robin Hood to ginger beer? Well, in the animated version Robin Hood is a fox, foxes are red and this is an English tale. Across the pond redheads are called gingers, ergo ginger beer! Yes, I suppose you could substitute ginger ale for the ginger beer but the flavor will be weaker unless you’ve got easy access to some artisanal  ginger ale micro”brew” or something. Seriously, go for the real thing or you might have to call it the Sheriff Nottingham (a wolf in fox’s clothing).

50 Shots of America–New Mexico


Because for the 47th state, OLD Mexico just wouldn’t do… (mostly because of it’s being a separate country and all…)


With a Smarty Spice Cocktailname like New Mexico, it’s not dangerous to assume that the Land of Enchantment once belonged to Mexico. Inhabited early on by the Navajo and Pueblo Indians (and others), it was 16th century Spanish explorer searching for riches to rival Mexico’s Aztec treasures who named the territory, a name that would stick with it as it became a state on January 6, 1912.

Fast forward to the war years and the state’s wide open spaces made it an ideal testing ground for things like the first atomic bomb and mining crude oil and natural gas. But it’s not all bombs and bunkers; New Mexico has a thriving arts scene reflecting local and international influences.

Smarty Spice

1 slice Jalapeño Pepper
1/4 wedge Lime
splash Club Soda
1 1/4 oz Silver Tequila
1/4 oz Blue Curacao

Muddle the pepper (remove the the seeds and membrane if you want to tone down the spiciness a touch), lime and club soda in the bottom of a mixing glass until the lime is well juiced. Fill the glass with ice, add in the tequila and curacao and shake like a maraca! Strain into a chilled cordial glass enjoy.

Between it’s low population density and high percentage of military and aeronautical careers, New Mexico has the highest concentration of PhD-holders than any other state. One New Mexican City, Hatch, is known as the Green Chile Capital of the World. And, seeing as they share a name and a section of border with Mexico, tequila just seemed the most fitting base. The curacao, though, is mostly for color–it comes pretty close to the state stone’s turquoise hue.

Now, just one word of caution: if you suddenly start seeing UFOs, check to see how many Smarty Spice’s you’ve had before calling the papers; chances are the more you drink, the less smart even the smartest of us become.