AlcoHOLidays | National Battery Day | High Voltage


jwalker_highvoltagecocktailGot your history caps on? Today’s cocktail comes with a real charge!

Unlike the seemingly arbitrary assignment of some holidays (yes, PB&J Day, I’m looking at you), National Battery Day makes perfect sense as it falls on February 18th, the birthday of Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the battery.

Volta (from whom we get the word volt–the measure of electrical potential) was a physicist born in Como Italy, who discovered the gas methane in 1778 as well as created what he called a voltaic pile in 1800–an electrochemical cell or, in other words, a battery. With some acidic or brined cloth between them, the stacked zinc and copper get to zapping, and we get electricity. He also had another version called, appropriately enough, the Crown of Cups.

High Voltage

3/4 oz. Pepper Vodka
1/2 oz. Chocolate Liqueur
a couple pieces Crystallized Ginger
2 1/2 oz. Ginger Beer

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the crystallized ginger with the vodka and chocolate liqueur until the ginger is broken up. Fill the mixing glass 3/4 full with ice, top with ginger beer and shake until nice and frothy. Strain into a prepared cocktail glass and garnish with a bit more of the crystallized ginger and a red chili.

When brainstorming this drink for a few days leading up to my own experiments, I was thinking of flavors that would instantly communicate a bit of a zap to the tongue: ginger and chili. Well, turns out, when I did the research, both ginger and chili powder natural sources of copper in the diet, and dark chocolate gives us copper as well as zinc*. Obviously the distillation process has probably done away with the actual health benefits of this drink, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

As for particulars, for the vodka I used Absolut Peppar, the chocolate was–of course–Godiva, and the ginger beer Bundaberg. If you must use ginger ale, at least use something with some bite to it or make up a small batch of ginger sugar syrup (small because the ginger zing fades away quickly) and add it to your own seltzer water to taste.

So if you need something to zap you into action, why not raise your glass to Count Volta (so honored by Napoleon in 1801) and get to your good times quick like a bunny.

Sips & Shots: come for the cocktails, stay for the history lessons. Or not.



*For the love of all that’s good and right, please do not take your nutritional guidelines from a cocktail article, m’kay? If you think you need additional zinc, copper, or anything else that your body may be lacking, please see a doctor not a bartender.

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!


Slip Into Something More Raspberry


What, no one decided to take up the Quest cocktail challenge? That’s too bad!

Maybe this week’s cocktail will be better suited for you, then, and we’ll keep it short and sweet, to boot! It’s the holidays, after all, and everyone seems to be in a hurry.

Raspberry Slip cocktailChefs love to tell stories–I don’t know, must come with the job–and our chefs at school were no exception. One (who also happened to be an English major before he became a chef) loved to tell us all the odd things they’d come up with to round out the usual cocktail and buffet offerings.

Apparently chocolate-dipped strawberries just weren’t special enough for this one client, they demanded something truly decadent and over-the-top to wow their guests. To appease Miss Picky they dipped hundreds of fresh raspberries into dark chocolate–just the barest tip–and called them Aphrodite’s Nipples. A little risque, sure, but the client loved them. Go figure.

About a year or so I created a simple cocktail based on those little gems for a fundraiser, and today I’m taking it another step and creating a darker, creamier recipe as our ‘R’ martini.

Raspberry Slip

1 1/2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 1/4 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
3/4 oz Godiva Liqueur
3/4 oz Raspberry Liqueur

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and slip into a sweet, chocolate-berry languor.

If you’re a fan of those raspberry flavored chocolates that have flooded the market in the last couple years you’ll really like this cocktail.  And if you feel the need to take the even more to the dark side, drizzling some chocolate syrup down the sides of the glass or rimming it with chocolate curls certainly wouldn’t hurt. Or, hey, be decadent and do both! I won’t tell…

Have Your Dessert (Cocktail) First!


Not that I’d know anything about testing out a super-indulgent cocktail recipe before supper. And if I were to do such a thing, it’s only be to take advantage of the light.

Let’s get down to the business of the G-cocktail, shall we? Which just happened to be inspired by a certain special-occasion dessert.

The Groom's Cake Cocktail

The Groom's Cake Cacktail

For those unfamiliar, the groom’s cake is a particularly Southern wedding tradition that is, thankfully, spreading thanks to the global nature of wedding blogs and reality television. An alternative to the (frequently) dry, white wedding cake, the groom’s cake was usually chocolate but, really, these days can be any size, shape or flavor the groom decides (or the bride allows). Often the cake represents a hobby of the groom’s and is one of the few times the groom might have any input into the wedding!

As my mind wandered down this path, I also remembered a cake I did for a friend’s husband that was German Chocolate–the cake itself is only part of the equation; that gooey coconut frosting is another matter entirely! Dreams are made of that nutty, super-sweet stuff.

The Groom’s Cake

1 1/2 oz Vanilla Vodka
1 1/4 oz Godiva Liqueur
1 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
3/4 oz Buttershots
1/4 oz Frangelico
Flaked coconut and cocoa powder for garnish

Combine vodka, Godiva, butter-schnapps, condensed milk and Frangelico over ice in a shaker and shake while you do a run through of the Electric Slide–just to keep in practice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with cocoa and coconut.

Alternately, skip the rim adornment and mix a little of the coconut and cocoa with more of the condensed milk, maybe a splash of frangelico, too, and top something sturdy with the mixture and float it in the drink. I used a mini rice cake for the raft and it worked quite well (and made a nice treat at the end of the cocktail!).

Even though we just did a chocolate cocktail 4 letters ago, I’m firmly of the belief that you really can’t have too much chocolate in your cocktail repertoire (or, you know, life in general), so we’ll go with it. The idea was to create a velvety-smooth concoction reminiscent of the cake and icing combo (second only to red velvet cake* with cream cheese frosting, I’d a guess) that is clearly a desert cocktail.

How’d we do? You’ll just have to try it yourself and see, won’t you!

And, yes, I’ve made a version of the bleeding-armadillo Groom’s cake before. Not exactly like the one from Steel Magnolias but it did have grey icing (poured fondant, in this case) and its beady little eyes, according to the recipient, followed you around the room. Which is only a good thing considering the person that ordered it meant it as a somewhat twisted joke.

50 Shots of America–Wyoming

Cowboy UP! Cocktail

Cowboy UP! (with sugar cookies and milk)

Dude, we’re up to the 44th state of the Union: Wyoming!

And no, I haven’t confused my states, I know we’ve already done California. I’m not talking surfing, here, I’m talking ranching! Dude ranches, specifically, the first of which was opened in 1879 in Wolf, Wyoming by the Eaton brothers (warning: music plays automatically). Back then, “dude” referred more to dandies than the burn-outs of the Bill & Ted/Big Lebowski era, which makes a lot more sense when you think about Dude Ranches being places for city folk to get away and “play West” the way kids play house.

So, what else is there to know about Big Wyoming? Well, that it is big, for one thing! It’s the 1oth largest state size-wise but it’s the 50th people-wise. Lots of room to spread out (at least on the 3rd that isn’t mountain ranges). There’s also lots of mining and beau-coup tourism (can we say major National Parks? yes, yes we can). On the agricultural side they’ve got beef, hay, sugar beets, wheat, barley and wool.

And then there’s the who Equality thing. With “Equal Rights” as a state motto I suppose it’s no surprise that they were the first state to give women the vote, to allow them to serve in previously male-only occupations (bailiff, justice of the peace) and even the first to elect a woman as governor!

Cowboy UP!

1 Tbsp Shredded Coconut
1/2 oz Dark Rum
1/2 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz Hazelnut Liqueur

Muddle the coconut and the rum in the bottom of a mixing glass. Fill with ice, then add the chocolate and hazelnut liqueurs. Shake like a bucking bronco just outta the gate and strain into a chilled cordial glass (miniature bandanna optional).

Wyoming is, among other things, the Cowboy state and all I could think of after that was Cowboy Cookies: oatmeal cookies studded with nuts, raisins, chocolate and coconut. Of course, what goes better with cookies than milk? Unlike most of my drinks, this one doesn’t include any mixer so I’d suggest you chase it with a shot of milk or go ahead and pour it in–either way the drink is delicious.