50 Shots of America–South Dakota


More than 75% through our drink-by-state tour of the United States, today we stop by South Dakota for a trip through the Black Hills…


Black Hills Stream

Black Hills Stream

There’s still that 50/50 chance that today’s state is actually number 39 and not 40 as it shows up in most lists, but we’ll not rehash that old tale again. Instead, let’s focus on what makes South Dakota a state apart from it’s northern kin.

Home to Tom Brokaw and Laura Engalls Wilder, the Mount Rushmore State sports those famous stone visages in the Black Hills–so named for their appearance, from a distance, covered with pine trees of various types makes the mountains look black. And I’m not sure where I thought Deadwood and Wounded Knee were located (though I suspect I thought it was somewhere in the southwest) but apparently those sites are in South Dakota, too!

Black Hills Stream

1 oz Gin
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Goldschlager

Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir until the ice tumbles about like stone going through a wash plant (we’ve been watching Gold Rush Alaska). Strain into a chilled cordial glass and, if your lucky, you might find a bit of gold in your glass.

The gin is for the pine trees, the goldschlager is for the gold. The scent of the botanicals in the gin teases your nose (along with the cinnamon, of course) and lies subtle under the stronger liqueur. Schnapps have a way of taking over a drink, so using them in small doses is generally a good idea but especially so in shots.

Now, I’m going to sit back, watch Natural Treasure 2 and sip the rest of my drink.


We’ve only got 10 more states to go. Next up is Montana!

50 Shots of America–Nebraska

The Strobe

The Strobe

I think I’ve been both looking forward to and dreading getting to the 37th state: it’s Todd’s home state and so there’s a little extra pressure to come up with something stellar. Am I up for the challenge? Let’s see…

The Cornhusker state came to be on March 1, 1867, just a couple years after the end of the Civil War. It’s name means “flat water” (for the Platte River) and it’s a good thing it’s got those rivers running around and through it as it’s landlocked three times over. Another curious fact is that Arbor Day began in Nebraska; curious because the early homesteaders (who came for the free land grants a la Far and Away) built homes out of sod because trees were so scarce.

Being smack dab in the middle of the country, it’s no surprise that railroads are big in Nebraska. The state hosts the Union Pacific headquarters and Bailey Yard (only the railroad classification yard–where they sort and switch cars and tracks–in the world).

When we visited Nebraska in 2010, I was amazed at the richness of the soil, the fact that seems just seemed to grow anywhere they were planted, and the number of wineries we found spread throughout the state (too late to visit any, though). The local food of fame, the Runza (aka Bierock), was sampled, as well as the eponymous Omaha Steaks.

Something we were glad we didn’t need to use was the 911 system (developed and first used in Lincoln).

And with that bad segue in place, here’s this week’s drink.

The Strobe

3/4 oz Bourbon Whiskey (like Jim Beam)
1/4 oz Goldschlager
1/2 oz Grenadine
1 oz Club Soda

Combine whiskey, goldschlager and grenadine over ice and shake like a tornado roaring down the plains. Strain into a chilled cordial glass and top with the club soda.

If you think it looks a little like Kool-Aid, there’s a reason for that: in 1927 Edward Perkins created the famous powdered beverage in Hastings, Nebraska. I may not keep the stuff in the house but the grenadine goes a long way towards making this drink look like it’s predecessor. The Goldschlager is a nod to the start of the Black Hills Gold Rush in Sydney and, well, it just wouldn’t be right to have a drink for the Cornhusker state made with anything other than a corn base, would it?

And, of course, it’s named after another Nebraskan invention: the strobe light was invented by Dr. Harold Edgerton of Aurora. Too many of these and you might be seeing spots of light, yourself!

But did the drink pass the Todd-test? With a response of “refreshing,” I think it passed.

50 Shots of America–Maryland


You know, if Maryland was a person, I think they’d be pretty confused.

Take, for example, this scattering of facts:

  • Founded as a haven for English Catholics, Catholicism has been banned at least twice within it’s borders! Still, it boasts the first cathedral in the United States (the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and was home to the founder of the Sisters of Charity who became the first US-born citizen to be canonized, St Elizabeth Ann, 9.14.1975.
  • It’s considered Little America or America in Miniature because it boasts so many different environments in it’s just-over 12,000 square miles–that’s a lot of everything to put in such a small space!
  • Despite being predominantly Democratic, it’s most famous political son was the Republican VP under Nixon, Spiro Agnew. Of course, maybe that should read infamous…
  • It’s technically south of the Mason-Dixon line (since that point of demarcation is it’s northern border) but was coerced into not seceding with it’s southern brethren (of which roughly half the state identified with) because Lincoln pointed cannons at it from DC! Incidentally, the land DC sits on was ceded by Maryland back in 1790.
  • The state sport is jousting, which is rather unique, but it’s tough to actual witness unless you attend the Maryland Renaissance Faire in Crownsville, and it only runs 3 months of the year!
  • And look at the state motto: Manly deeds, womanly words. Would you like to be in the metaphorical room when those two duke it out?

It’s for these reasons I dub the following drink:

Wit’s End

1/2 oz Rye whiskey
1/4 oz Goldschlager
1/2 oz Ginger syrup*
Club soda

Combine the rye, goldschalger and syrup over ice. Shake like a jouster is barrelling towards you with his lance aimed at your shaker. Strain into a cordial glass and top with club soda, giving it a little stir with a swizzle stick to combine.

Even though the state beverage is, indeed, milk the early trials of milk and rye and Old Bay seasoning (in honor of that which seasons the famous Maryland Blue Crabs that are such a treat) fared about what they sound like they would. (Actually, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really what I was looking for. Plus, we just did a milk cocktail not too long ago.) Rye whiskey was quite a popular item in Maryland up until Prohibition but since then most distilleries have closed, the last surviving one transplanted to Kentucky. Still, rye and soda can be found in some of the older Marylander establishments for those looking for a taste of the old ways.

Old Bay, back to the seasoning for a bit, is described as a combination of celery salt, bay leaf, mustard seed, black and red peppers, cinnamon and ginger. Yum! And while the first sets of ingredients had me thinking something along the lines of a Bloody Mary, the cinnamon and ginger seemed a nice foil for the rye, which can be quite strong if you’re not all that into whiskey. (Hint: Rye whiskey reminds me more of Scotch than Bourbon.) Also, there was a taste of gold mining going on in the Old Line State but it didn’t last long. Still, it made the Goldschlager an obvious choice.

*To make ginger syrup you can go two ways:

  1. Make a basic 1:1 Simple Syrup with about an inch of fresh cut ginger simmered in. Strain and cool.
  2. Dice and mash an inch of fresh ginger and let steep in pre-made simple syrup for 2 weeks or more.

One last note about Maryland (though, I admit, there’s plenty more to say). During the War of 1812 the British were trying to take the Port of Baltimore and did battle against Fort McHenry. Francis Scott Key is said to have penned the Star Spangled Banner during this onslaught. I find this incredibly synchronistic as, completely unplanned–I couldn’t plan this stuff if I tried!–my topic over at the 64 Arts (my personal blog about living creatively) for Friday is Anthems. Coincidence? I’m not sure there is such a thing!

50 Shots of America–Georgia


Even though I live about a half-hour’s drive from the Florida-Georgia border and even worked in that state (however briefly), I had absolutely no idea that Georgia was one of the original 13 Colonies much less the 4th official state, having ratified the Constitution on January 2, 1788.

(Seriously, we’re getting close to concurrent dates, here–will it happen? I suppose I could peek ahead and see but I like to be surprised. Actually, I don’t, but I’ll make an exception in this instance!)

You know, I bet the Union must have taken it very hard when Georgia seceded is 1861; one of their own betraying them and all. But the Union got their revenge: many battles fought on Georgia clay, General Sherman setting fire to a good portion of the state during his March to the Sea and then it spent the longest time of any of the other Confederate states in Reconstruction. They were the last of the CSA to be readmitted into the Union in 1870. Gee, hold a grudge much?

At any rate, I did know that Georgia was the Peach State and that it also grows a lot of cotton (I’ve passed the fields on my way through that state more times than I can count) and is known for peanut production as well (it’s the state crop). What I didn’t know is that they are #1 in the world for pecan production (though I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me) and are home to the Granite (Ellerton), Poultry (Gainesville) and Carpet (Dalton) Capitals of the World. Pretty impressive stuff.

While many know that Girl Scouts began in Savanah in 1912 and the unfortunate fact that high muckety-mucks in Georgia were responsible for the Trail of Tears in 1838, another thing started in Georgia that might just surprise you: the US Gold Rush! It was not out in California that the first gold was found, but in Dahlonega, Georgia in 1829. You can tour one of those early mines and even pan for gold and gemstones while you’re there!

Golden Peach

1 oz Peach nectar
2 tsp Goldschlager cinnamon liqueur

Combine the nectar and liqueur over ice in a small cocktail shaker and shake it like a miner down to his last pan. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Peach was the obvious choice for a Georgia drink and even though the Goldschlager was, at first, a novely decision based on the bits of gold floating around the bottom of the bottle it made sense the more I thought about it. Peach pie seasoned with cinnamon, anyone? Exactly!

This drink is also deceptively simple. It actually took 3 tries before we found the right balance between cinnamon and peach. I think this would scale up very easily with the addition of vanilla vodka and a brown sugar-graham cracker rim to make a very nice dessert martini.

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