Cosmic Cocktails | Capricorn | The Social Climber


I’m sure you’ve heard the following phrase:

Behind every successful man, there’s a woman.

That woman in question was probably a Capricorn.

Social Climber Cocktail, part of the Cosmic Cocktails series at

Our tenth sign of the zodiac, Capricorn is the sign of ambition and drive and supreme focus. They are great in the board room not only because they thrive on power and position, but also because they have the amazing talent of remaining calm in a crisis.

They are posh, polished, and probably  planned it all that way–mental, emotional, or physical makeovers are just their style.

For a sign so focused on precision I kept coming back to the classics, The Manhattan, the Gin Martini, drinks that has an air of something elegant and timeless about them.

But then what would I do with my evening?

Instead, let’s slum a little with the up-and-coming Capricorn and see what sort of drink they inspire.

Oh, definitely something that speaks of yearning for the best in life, that just-barely-contained lust for power, and the willingness to do whatever. it. takes. to get there. To a Capricorn on the rise, the ends certainly justify the means. Some might suspect our sea-goat is a little over-eager but they’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint why they suspect it, because the Capricorn exudes an “I know” vibe that can leave the rest of us second-guessing.

Cap is shrewd, secretive when he thinks he’s got the inside track, but willing to coddle a former friend whose just made it big if they think they might be able to use them some how.

Yes, I do believe this side of Capricorn makes for a most interesting cocktail.

The Social Climber

2 oz Cognac
1 1/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz Kahlua

Combine the three spirits in a mixing glass over ice and stir for precisely 15 seconds to sufficiently chill the alcohol without diluting it more than necessary. Strain into a chilled glass of ample volume and do not sully the drink with any thing even remotely resembling a maraschino cherry.

In my mind, our Capricorn-on-the-make will use the best  he can afford, even if he’s still acclimating to the taste. To help blend in he adds the schnapps, but even after a round with his new boss there’s still that bitter aftertaste of the 12 shots of espresso he downed that afternoon to make it through that last big project that he hopes will get him the promotion.

Reaching. Cloying. Desperate.

I think that says it all.


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!


50 Shots of America–Oklahoma


The countdown has now begun, folks, as we’re making our way through the final 5 in our cocktail tour of the United States we’re also just now getting to the territories that reached statehood in the twentieth century!


Sooner Twist Than Shout cocktailOOOOOOOOOk-lahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains… (C’mon, tell me that’s not the first thing you do when you hear Oklahoma. It is the state song, after all, so I guess it’s meant to be just that memorable.)

Originally the Indian Territory–home to both native settlements as well as where the displaced tribes of the southeast were packed off to via the Trail of Tears–it didn’t take long (less than 30 years) before cattle trains between Texas and Kansas began making regular runs through there and the US decided, hey, we might want that territory for our use after all. First they subdivided and shrank the Native American lands and then they just started giving the rest away to anyone who could show up at the appointed day and time of the Land Run.

In fact, that’s where the state nickname originated: a “sooner” was someone who crossed into the not-quite-available territory before the allotted time, generally to stake out the choicer claims for themselves. Sooners became known as go-getters and ambitious folk… guess it does sound better than “sneakers.”

Of course, this was all before statehood was granted (that didn’t happen until November 18, 1907).

But, hey, it’s not like the early days of the Oklahoma Territory were anything different than any other settled area we managed to grow into, right? And the way I see it, we all have our fair share of karma from those decisions. Those plains-sweeping winds can just as easily be tornadoes as they could gentle spring breezes is all I’m saying.

Sooner Twist Than Shout

1/2 oz Dry Gin
1 1/2 oz Beer
1/4 oz Lime Juice
Coffee liqueur

Combine the gin, beer and lime juice over ice in a shaker and whirl it around like a truck in a tornado. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

To add the coffee liqueur to the bottom of the glass, draw the liqueur into a straw or pipette and hold it in place, put the full end of the straw at the bottom of the glass and release. You may have to tap or bounce the straw a bit to relative gravity issues, but it’s worth it–not only for the look of the cocktail but the tiny bit of sweet coffee that finishes the drink is an amazing finish to an otherwise tart cocktail.

Like Florida, Oklahoma has got quite the panhandle going for it and their panhandle is full to the brim with pinyon pines and others of that resinous ilk. Pine makes me think gin and this time I wanted a twist (get it? do I have to explain all of my cues and puns by now? we’re on cocktail #46, here!) on the classic gin and tonic, using good old American beer instead of tonic water (OK ranks 5th in wheat production).

With oil representing such a boon to the state’s early and continued economy (they have an active oil well on the grounds of the state capitol!), I wanted to make sure it was represented in the drink, as well.

Whether you serve this with the state meal or not–yes, they have one–of barbecue pork, chicken fried steak, biscuits, sausage and gravy, fried okra, squash, corn, grits, black-eyed peas, cornbread, strawberries, and pecan pie–it’s a great drink the end a long day. Just wait until after you pull off Route 66 before consuming any alcoholic beverages–we want us all to get to state #50 in one piece.

50 Shots of America–Rhode Island


Seems to like all Rhode Island ever wanted was to be left alone and they just never stood a chance. An early haven for seekers of religious tolerance it was later the Switzerland of New England during the American Indian wars of 17th Century (even though no one really honored their wish to remain neutral. Strong feelings of independence made it a major player in the American Revolution, hosting the first official bloodshed of the war in Providence.

The last of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution on May 29, 1790, it was in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution when Moses Brown helped create the first textile mill in the country. They were the first to send troops to Lincoln’s aid in the early days of the Civil War, even housing the Union Naval Academy during that time–all the while despite their heavy part in the slaves-sugar-rum trade with the Caribbean and Africa. That might be a significant reason they never ratified the 18th Amendment!

The Ocean State’s official beverage is a concoction known as Coffee Milk–milk mixed with a coffee syrup available throughout the state. So that leads us to…

Pandora’s Glass

1 oz cold milk (not fat free, at least 2%)
3/4 oz coffee liqueur
1/4 oz golden rum

Combine over ice and shake like you’re releasing all the evils of the world. Strain into a cordial glass.

For the unfamiliar, the myth of Pandora is that she was created as a revenge on man (for stealing fire from the gods) and sent with a box (or jar) containing disease and all manner of misfortune. Her curiosity got the best of her and all the evils were released, leaving hope alone at the bottom of the box.

Rhode Island’s motto is, simply, “hope.” And there is always hope, even if it’s just the hope of another cocktail

Coffee Liqueur


Mmmmm, coffee goodness condensed into a rich liqueur, what could be better?

I’m a devotee of the coffee drinks (lattes and the like) but not so much an actual coffee drinker, so Kahlua and others of it’s ilk are right up my alley. One little hiccup: I’m not supposed to have any caffeine. Granted, it’s tough to avoid ALL caffeine and it’s not like I’m allergic, but I try to keep as much as possible out of my system. Which leads one (me) to ask, how much caffeine is in coffee liqueur?

Apparently I’m not the only one to wonder but the information is just not out there for public consumption. Thankfully, Ted Carnahan not only asked the question, but asked it of the source and got an answer:

Kahlua actually has very low levels of caffeine, (approximately 4.85 mg in each 1.5 oz drink).

Which, compared to a cup of coffee that has 100mg or more caffeine, means that there’s virtually none in a shot and therefore safe for us decaf drinkers and anyone who wants a nightcap in their nightcap without the potential insomnia.

Now, what to DO with the liqueur… that’s the real question. I was going to post the recipe for Mudslide (probably my favorite coffee liqueur drink) as compiled by AJ Rathbun in his book,Good Spirits, but then I read the note. The note suggested that maybe using a chocolate vodka would be a nice touch. Me? Add chocolate to a cocktail? How could I resist?

I didn’t have chocolate vodka but I did have Godiva liqueur on the shelf so I figured a 3:1 vodka to Godiva would probably yield the same results (if not better). Plus, I happened to pick up some vanilla vodka during my last supply run so I thought I’d give that a whirl while I was at it. The result? Mmmmmmm. It was like drinking a rich, mocha milkshake (I actually got out the blender for this one).

CHF Mocha Mudslide

1 cup ice
1 oz coffee liqueur
1 oz Irish cream liqueur
3/4 oz Vanilla vodka
1/4 oz chocolate liqueur

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Enjoy the holiday weekend, folks! Have fun and be safe!