AlcoHOLidays | Easter | Trio of the Southern Cross


The “shadowy” origins of many Christian holidays are major bones of contention among the devout and while I’m used to the usual arguments surfacing around Christmas I admit I’m a bit surprised at the furor rampant (at least among my Facebook friends) over Easter‘s influences.

Nutshell: the bunny, chicks, and eggs that don’t really seem like obvious symbols of the Christian resurrection celebration? That’s because they’re actually fertility symbols and yet another example of the Church appropriating a holiday from the people they were trying to sway into their fold. Over time the old pagan symbols may have been assigned new meanings (the egg as a symbol for the empty tomb, for instance) and the original meanings watered down into nothingness for most people. It happened, accept it and move on is my stance, but I’ve heard of several folks adopting the less-controversial Passover rites instead.

Whether your rite of spring leans towards sunrise services, Seders, or sugary confections a nice, refreshing beverage is definitely called for. Maybe you’re trying to balance the richness of kugel, clove-studded ham, or one too many chocolate bunnies, or you’ve looked ahead on the calendar to summer swimsuit season and want to keep your cocktails light and fruity. Any way you look at it, one of these three cocktails is sure to fit the bill.

Each of these three cocktails starts with a base of KAPPA Pisco and end with a topping-off of soda water or, in my case, Perrier. For folks who are not a big fan of plain water, adding bubbles is one way to make it more palatable, but Perrier isn’t just sparkling mineral water, it also comes in a variety of lightly flavored styles. I’ve tried their Pamplemousse Rose (pink grapefruit) before and recently received samples of their unflavored, lemon, and lime styles to try in place of club soda or sugary soda mixers in cocktails. Challenge accepted.

I find club soda to taste, essentially, like “stale” water–I’m not a fan. Admittedly Perrier has a similar trait but for whatever reason the overall flavor is more palatable. Also, if it isn’t silly to say–they’re probably the same, but–the bubbles in Perrier feel smaller, more delicate, than your average club soda. Again, I realize that’s more than likely ridiculous, but perception is perception.

On to the cocktails!

A trio of light, bright drinks perfect for spring!

A trio of light, bright drinks perfect for spring!

KAPPA Fresca

1 ½ oz KAPPA Pisco
3 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
Bottled soda water (or Perrier Lemon)

Pour KAPPA Pisco and orange juice into an ice filled mixing glass.  Shake vigorously.  Strain into an ice filled highball glass.  Top with soda (optional) and garnish with an orange peel.

KAPPA Grapefruit Fizz

1 ½ oz KAPPA Pisco
3 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz bottled soda water (or Perrier Lime)

Pour KAPPA Pisco and grapefruit juice into an ice filled highball glass.  Top with soda water (or lemon lime soda) and garnish with a lime wedge.

 KAPPA Kooler

1½ oz KAPPA Pisco
½ oz simple syrup
Club Soda (or Perrier)
Squeeze a wedge of lemon and lime

Combine all ingredients into a Collins glass with ice. Top with club soda and stir. Garnish with lemon and lime wedge.

Of the three, the KAPPA Grapefruit Fizz was my favorite while, surprisingly, Todd preferred the KAPPA Kooler, even though the flavor was mostly the KAPPA itself and he hadn’t liked the pisco neat when we did the tasting. Just goes to show that it only takes a little bit to take a drink from eh to excellent. The KAPPA Fresca, while neither of our favorites, is still a nice twist on the screwdriver or mimosa classics.



I received samples of both KAPPA Pisco and Perrier. All opinions expressed are my own.

AlcoHOLidays | Carnival & Mardi Gras | King’s Cup


King's Cup Cocktail for Carnival (aka Mardi Gras)

Following right on the heels of the Christmas season–when most people are beginning to experience the post-holiday doldrums–certain parts of the world have one thing in mind: continuing the party.

For most areas, Carnival starts somewhere between January 6th (Twelfth Night or the Feast of Epiphany) and just before Lent, flowing merrily onward for a month or more, culminating in Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (I know a lot of people refer to the entire festival as Mardi Gras, and I suppose these days it’s not entirely wrong to do so, but technically Mardi=Tuesday Gras=Fat or thereabouts, so take what you will from it), the last day of feasting and indulgence before the aforementioned Lent begins with it’s fasting and restrictions.

Regardless of the extent of debauchery that an area’s Carnival parties may or may not have, the prevailing goal is truly to eat, drink, and be merry–since rich meats, fat, and sugar are traditionally prohibited during Lenten observances that follow. In some lower-key celebrations, like Shrovetide, pancake flips are a common party-theme. The celebrations I’m most familiar with, though, include rich seafood dishes, the meat and cheese-filled muffuletta sandwiches, and King cakes decorated in green, gold, and purple (colors symbolizing faith, power, and justice, respectively).

Because Lent is the 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter, and Easter is a movable holiday, the exact date of Fat Tuesday also varies from year to year but usually falls at some point during February. In 2013, Fat Tuesday falls on February 12th.

And, yes, while most people in the United States consider New Orleans the place to be for Mardi Gras, it’s American seat is actually Mobile, Alabama (and their celebrations start in November!). Of course Mobile was originally settled as the capital of French Louisiana, so the state still has ample claim to the tradition.

When it comes to a Carnival cocktail, there are plenty to choose from. Hurricanes, made famous (or, perhaps, infamous) by Pat O’Briens, make a great party punch for this time of year. And then there’s the Absinthe-laced Sazerac, born in New Orleans.

But you know I can do more than just post a cocktail everyone else has already seen, right?

So I set out to concoct something on the savory side, a foil to some of the sugar-laden goodness that the holidays are known for, and kept going back to the muffuletta sandwich. Those savory flavors have formed the basis of today’s cocktail,

The King’s Cup

1 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Galliano
1/4 oz Agwa de Bolivia
1 barspoon Garlic-infused Olive Oil
splash Olive Juice

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half-full of ice and shake like you’re trying to get a Krewe-members attention. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a spear of 3 olives (or one large olive, preferrably stuffed with blue cheese).

The King’s Cup takes the idea of the dirty martini and turns it on its ear. After all, the muffuletta is just an Italian sub sandwich until you add the amazing olive salad, redolent with garlic.  Yes, I’m serious about the garlic-infused olive oil–it’s fabulous to cook with, so you won’t have to worry about it going to waste, the garlic flavor is pronounced but not overpowering and the oil gives the drink a velvety smoothness. The grapefruit juice keeps the gin and herbaceous liqueurs from making the drink overly strong without sweetening it up too much.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!*


And we’re back! Thank you all for your patience while Sips & Shots (and the rest of the Helper Monkey Network) took a much needed break during January. A lot of the work we did was behind-the-scenes, but if you read these posts in a feed reader, you might want to head on over to Sips & Shots and take a gander at the front-of-the-house sprucing-up that has gone on, too! As always, we welcome your feedback and hope you’ll share the posts you like with family and friends.

*(That’s “Let the good times roll” for those who don’t speak Carnival!)

Cosmic Cocktails | Sagittarius | The Great Hunt


The Great Hunt, Sagittarian cocktail

Starting off the final four in our zodiacal bacchanal is Sagittarius, the Archer.

It’s no great stretch of the imagination to believe that the Sagittarian is always on the hunt for one thing or another, that it truly is the chase that drives them. Consequently, once one trial is done, the next one must come quick on it’s heals or our Sagittarian may become morose and unruly.

Because of their must-keep-hunting nature, sales is a fantastic job with someone in the sun sign of Sagittarius. Sales, consulting, and other jet-setting fields also give them a great sense of freedom–the other watch-word for this sign. The only thing they could use, though, in a job like sales is a little more tact, decorum, or some sort of filter but, then, everone has their flaws. Lucky for Saggos, though, they’re usually just ribald and rowdy enough to stay charming; for the most part.

Sagittarius is a mutable sign, which means it falls on the change from one season to another (in this case, fall to winter) and suggests a character that is spontaneous, if sometimes neglectful of duty. Routine is not a friend to this sign, with boredom and restlessness setting in quickly if they feel confined to the same-old, same-old.

On the hunt for this week’s cocktail, I was continually drawn to the flavor of darker spirits–whiskey–but also a bright, exuberant flavor.

The Great Hunt

2 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice
1 1/2 oz Honey Bourbon
1/2 oz Raspberry Liqueur
1 splash Angostura Bitters

Combine everything in a mixing glass over ice and shake like the hounds are nipping at your heels. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy.

Raspberry liqueur is one of those spirits that can easily overpower a drink with its sweet, syrupy, cloying-ness–just like the sometimes-soporific Sagg–but the bourbon and grapefruit are able to keep it on an even keel. This is the first drink using raspberry that I’ve actually had to add MORE to it to balance out the stronger ingredients.


50 Shots of America–Florida

Liquid Sunshine

Liquid Sunshine

Oh, hey, did you think we were done with the East Coast? That we were at least finished with the Southeast, moving as we are through the Midwest and all?

Not exactly.

See, while the rest of the country was becoming locally-owned, the Spanish were still holding on to Florida with a pretty good grip until after the First Seminole War in 1818 and, even then, only lost the Eastern portion.  West Florida wasn’t signed over to the US until 1819 for $5 million and the understanding that the US would give up any of it’s Texas holdings. (And how long did that last, you wonder? The fact that *spoiler!* Texas is next week’s state */spoiler!* should give you a clue.)

Still, Florida didn’t have the oomph to become a fully-fledged member of the Union until 1845 (March 3rd, to be exact) and we’ve grown to be the 4th most populated state with our eye on New York to take 3rd place sometime soon.

Lots of folks retire to Florida for the lovely weather we have. News flash, folks: Florida is hot. And it’s a wet, sticky, humid heat that there is no escaping from. I remember 106-degree summers with no air conditioning as a child and wonder how we survived. Winter (with a few notable exceptions) is reserved for a week or so in January or February. We wave as something spring-like passes by on the fast-track to summer and hurricane season and again as a fall cool-snaps hits in October but heads for the hills just in time to make choosing Halloween costumes difficult since it could be 70s or 90s that day.

We’re also prone to afternoon precipitation that can range anywhere from lightening and thunder-storms with a side of hail to out-of-nowhere rain from a practically cloudless sky, the latter known as sun-showers or, you guessed it, liquid sunshine.

Liquid Sunshine

1 oz Lemon-Lime Gatorade
1/2 oz Rum
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Cointreau*

Combine over ice and shake like your running through raindrops. Strain into a chilled shot or cordial glass and try and cool off.

*I don’t normally specify a specific brand but you really don’t want to use a basic Triple Sec for something like this (or many other things, really)–it’s prone to overpower and you just don’t have room for that in a small drink like this.

Florida is, of course, known for it’s oranges and grows more than half of the nation’s citrus fruit (oranges, tangerines and grapefruit). Sugarcane, tomatoes, strawberries and celery round out our many agricultural achievements.

In addition to the natural juice we produce, all those fitness drinks on the market? Yup, they all started with one–Gatorade–developed by the coaching staff and physicians in 1965 at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, whose mascot is the Gator.

And if you’re not feeling the mixed drinks, you can check out the amazing San Sebastian Port available from the monks in St Augustine (the oldest European settlement in North America). The grapes are grown and processed in central Florida at the Lakeridge Winery (excellent tasting tours available pretty much any time–ask for Christy, if she’s there!) and finished up in St Augustine. It’s an amazing cherry Port in a bottle whose design dates back to the Middle Ages.