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!

Creating a Cocktail


That same party that sparked the Menu Planning and Quantity discussions (not to mention reminding me of the fun side of catering) also gave me a chance to try out a new service I’m offering: custom cocktail creation. Because it’s an interesting process (and a yummy drink), I thought I’d share how I went about designing the cocktail to fit the event.

First some background: the party was a Mary Kay Holiday Open House hosted by a trio of consultants, one of which is a good friend from high school, who requested a non-alcoholic drink because people would be coming and going, plus there’d be young ones around. My friend and the other two consultants, lovely ladies all, are fun and bubbly so I had a pretty good feel for their personalities in relation to the type of party they wanted this to be.

So right off the bat I’m thinking pink (I mean, Mary Kay: what else is there?) and possibly cranberry since it’s a fairly popular flavor and a good base for a mocktail but where to go after that? I could do a cranberry-orange mix that’s sorta like a virgin Cosmopolitan, but that wasn’t special enough; this drink needed to be truly unique so a non-alcoholic version of any regular cocktail just seemed like a cop-out to me.

Another thought flitting through my mind is the skin-care  classes the consultants host, so if I could make the drink frothy or milky, reminiscent of a lotion maybe, that would be even better. Being November a smoothie seemed a little much and most frothy cocktails involved egg whites and that’s a tough sell to a stranger even if it is a component of many classic cocktails. I briefly considered experimenting with the powdered pasteurized egg whites but ditched it just as quick. That leaves milk, but with potential diary allergies or intolerance, was that really the best option? And would it even combine nicely with the cranberry juice?

I let this mull over in my mind for a few days when I suddenly had an epiphany: Bubble Tea! For those who’ve not tasted it before, bubble tea is an Asian drink (I’m honestly not sure which culture truly claims it, I’ve seen references to Japanese as well as Vietnamese origins), a sweet combination of tea and milk with, usually, a fruit flavor added and large black tapioca pearls (the bubble part of the equation) in the bottom of the cup. It’s served with a wide straw so that the pearls, which are cooked to a gummy consistency, can be sucked up and enjoyed as well. Now, I’d never seen a cranberry bubble tea and I certainly didn’t want to use the powders (both for the tea and flavorings) that seem to be the norm, but I really liked the idea and thought it had potential.

Thinking Asian got me thinking about another milk alternative: coconut milk. Not coconut cream like you use in a Pina Colada, but the type used in Thai curries. I considered using other dairy alternatives (almond, rice and soy milks) but when I started to do some digging into the health properties of each, coconut milk was the surprising winner. Even though it contains saturated fats (usually a bad thing), the saturated fat of the coconut is unusual in it’s makeup and not harmful like the ones from animal sources. Plus I found out that coconut milk is anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-carcinogenic, anti-bacterial and has been used in studies to lessen the viral load of AIDS patients!

See, I’d already named this drink The Facial, at least as a working title, and thought that if regular facials are good for our skin, a drink named as such should be somewhat good for our bodies. So, as I experimented with the various ingredients (green tea and cranberry juice, both good things!) I tried to keep that in mind. And experiment I did. It took several trials combining different teas (regular green and flavored), the coconut milk, juice and brown sugar syrup to get a drink that was tasty and had the right color and consistency. And, of course, the tapioca pearls I found were the small white kind so as I cooked them I tinted them black with icing paste (both to match the color scheme of the party–pink, black and silver–as well as resemble the micro-beads that are in various scrubs and serums the company sells) and then stored them in the recommended brown sugar syrup.

Here’s the resulting mocktail, renamed The Miracle after the company’s core skin-care set.

The Miracle Mocktail

2.5 oz brewed Cranberry-Pomegranate Green Tea
2.5 oz 100% Juice Cranberry Juice
.5 oz Brown Sugar Syrup*
.5 oz Grenadine (mostly for color, can be omitted)
1 oz Coconut Milk
1 Tbsp Tapioca Pearls, tinted

Place the Tapioca Pearls in the bottom of a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass.

Combine the tea through coconut milk in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake for a good count of 10. Pour over the tapioca pearls and enjoy!

* Brown sugar syrup is made by combining 1 part brown sugar, 1 part white sugar and 2 parts water in a saucepan and heating until the sugars are completely dissolved. Can be made ahead and store in the fridge for more than a month. Also good in rum-based cocktails where regular sugar syrup is called for though it can change the color of a drink.

The drink was a hit, both with the hostess trio and the guests and I had so much fun creating it and playing bartender throughout the evening. I did get asked if it was harder coming up with a non-alcoholic cocktail and I had to admit that, yes, it was a little more challenging to come up with something different enough to justify the effort but it was definitely rewarding and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to create a custom cocktail!

If you’d like to find out how to get your own custom cocktail creation, email me at