Cosmic Cocktails | Gemini | Twist of Fate


Gemini's Twist of Fate cocktail

Depending on which lore you go with, the story of the Gemini is either based on the Greek twins Castor and Pollus or the Babylonian friends Gilgamesh and Enkidu–either way, you’re dealing with a mortal and an immortal, a pair of like-minded souls.

All mutable signs (signs that cover a change of seasons–in the case of Gemini from Spring to Summer) represent at least a little duality or element of change.

For The Twins, a common name for Gemini, the idea is very much in there being two, together, and sharing of their twin-ness. Gemini are adept at communication and learning, love to people watch, talk to new people and really listen if there’s half a chance of coming across an interesting stranger, but they also play peace-maker or go-between a lot.

Being an air sign, Geminis exhibit a bit of free spiritedness, relish spontaneity, and have a youthfulness that lasts throughout their lives. They love being in the know (which can lead to them being gossips), and can hold their own in any conversation. Many actors and actresses are Geminis, well suited by their desire to never be just 1 sort of person, and a career in journalism suits a Gemini quite well, too.

My mother is, in many ways, a typical Gemini. (Though the claims to be a “cusp” since she’s near the end of the sign, which would be fine if the concept of cusps had any real standing, astrologically–if you don’t fit your sun-sign profile, check your chart for “the rest of the story,” namely your Ascendant. Frankly I think it’s just her Geminian habit of not wanting to be pinned down exerting itself.)

This also explains why we butted heads more than the usual mother-daughter kerfuffles. I remember one summer, she had come to pick me up from Auburn (I was there for a Rotary Model UN) and on the way home she wanted to stop and do all these little road-side adventures (very Gemini) and all I wanted to do was get home, already (stubborn Taurus)! When I do road trips? Even my side-trips are planned.

But back to the Gemini.

Every sign has it’s “good” days and “bad.” On a good day the Gemini is flexible and go-with-the-flow personified. On a bad day? They are flighty and inconsistent. On a good day the don’t pin me down mantra contributes to an independent spirit, and on a bad day it shows up as disloyal or unfaithful. On a good day they’ll listen to your woes and offer sage counsel, on the other hand they can just as easily tell the stories of others–sometimes in painful or embarrassing detail–in the name of “communication.”

This sign is also associates with the color yellow, and the flavor of aniseed (as well as caraway and marjoram). And while true Geminis would bristle at being tied down to just one signature drink, I present this sunny-hued libation in their honor.

Twist of Fate

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Galliano
.5 oz Limoncello
garnish with a red licorice whip

Combine the Galliano, limoncello and pineapple juice in a shaker over ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a red licorice whip, just to be contrary.

The flavor of the Gemini cocktail is a study in sameness and contrast. The pineapple enhances the sweetness of the limoncello while the notes of anise from the Galliano pick up the tart, and yet together they make a most brilliant yellow cocktail. Still, for those not sure about a licorice-flavored cocktail, be a bit adventurous and give this one a whirl as this really is a well-balanced drink and no single note stands out over the others. In fact, each sip is a slightly different blend, kind of like the Gemini from day to day.

Convergence of Annoying Naming Conventions


the iTini cocktail10-6-2011 ETA: In light of the recent passing of Steve Jobs, I’ve decided to postpone the posting of the next cocktail and leave the iTini up for another week.


As much as I absolutely adore anything that Apple comes out with, I have to admit that the iEverything naming thing is a little much. In fact, it’s almost as annoying as the prevalence of calling anything in a cocktail glass a -tini.

Of course, the -tini appelation is appropriate when the drink is inspired by the original and, well, I suppose the leading lowercase i deserves the same benefit.

The iTini

2 oz Vodka
1 oz Anise-flavored Liqueur

Combine the two alcohols in a shaker over ice and shake like an etch-a-sketch*. Strain into a chilled-but-no-frills cocktail glass and whatever you do, don’t you dare add a garnish.

When I tried to envision what a Mac would taste like (other than plastic and wires and stuff), I envisioned something very clean, streamlined and, yes, an acquired taste. Immediately I thought of anise. Licorice is one of those things you either love or hate, there’s seldom a middle ground. And I think the same is true about the computer we’re paying homage to.

Using what I had on hand meant Galliano so the drink is yellow. Had I been willing to leave the house for the 1,256th errand of the day I would have picked up a clear anise liqueur to keep that sleek white look. But, hey, we all remember the fruity iMacs, right? (I still have a Blueberry G3 at the office!) And iPods come in all sorts of colors. You also want a very clean, crisp vodka so go premium or make something else, like the fabulous Cinco 5-Star I’ve used earlier in the series.

I happen to like both, but I have to be in the mood for licorice. I also use Mac and non-Mac computers–each have their strengths. So while this drink (which only barely qualifies as a true cocktail IF you count the 3rd ingredient as the water that gets mixed-in during shaking) isn’t an everyday drink (figuratively speaking, of course), it has it’s uses.

*Dilbert reference–we’re just name dropping all up in here and, no, neither Apple nor Scott Adams know who I am. But Cinco did send me a bottle of their fabulous vodka to try out and I can’t recommend it enough!

Surprises Hide in Nebraska


I had the opportunity to visit Todd’s hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, this weekend. I didn’t know what to expect, really, other than flatland and corn fields.

I was half right.

There’s a lot of corn up there, lining the roads almost as soon as you leave any metro areas, and wheat is plentiful, too! It blows around and gets to where it lines the streets, cornfields and even finds root in bushes planted at the cemetery (we were in town for the unfortunate reason of a funeral).

But Lincoln didn’t seem all that flat to me. Apparently it’s in a bit of a basin and there’s a gently rolling hill sort of quality to the parts that I saw (Lincoln and the highway to and from the Omaha airport).

Haymarket Square

Haymarket Square

While in town we had time to do some sight-seeing and the first place we stopped was the historic Haymarket District. Including the railroad station and several blocks of warehouses converted into shops, restaurants, galleries and lofts, it’s full of old, picturesque brick buildings that kept my camera and I happily clicking away. At least, that is, after we stopped into the From Nebraska gift shop to find batteries.

Licorice International

LicoriceWe mostly walked around and looked in windows, not really shopping (our checked bag weighed-in at 45 lbs, after all, not much room for souvenirs), we did see one store we just had to take a look it: Licorice International. How much licorice could there really be? Enough to have an entire store dedicated to it?

In a word: Lots.

They carry licorice candies from 13 countries, both the traditional black licorice as well as the licorice-like twists in a variety of colors–I even saw some licorice root available for sale!

Licorice International

Licorice International

We were able to taste an Kookaburra Strawberry Twist from Austrailia that was quite tasty, but I’m afraid I made a bit of a fuss when I saw monkey-shaped licorice. A squeal might have escaped my lips. I was even a bit giddy at the possibility of tasting one (turns out most of the items are available to taste if you but ask). The ears and such are traditional black licorice but the yellow muzzle? It’s banana flavored! And with a texture that reminds you of circus peanuts in the best possible way. Even though the Dutch Ape Head licorice only came in 1 lb bags, I had to buy them if only for the novelty factor. Imagine my surprise when we got home and found them utterly addictive.

The rear of the spacious warehouse at Licorice International is used for packaging and shipping orders that keep them quite busy, as I understand it.

“Knee High by 4th of July”


Corn Stalks

As mentioned above, cornfields are plentiful. We stopped by the family farm which was being rented and worked by a local farmer. Even though my own grandfather was a farmer and I’d seen his fields off and on, growing up, he dealt in strawberries, peppers and beans. Corn fields are another sight to behold.

The phrase ‘knee high by the 4th of July’ refers to a benchmark in the growing season. The corn was quite a bit higher from where we were standing; more like that line from Oklahoma–as high as an elephant’s eye. Well, maybe a young elephant.

Nebraskan Wine

As we wrapped up our tour of the Haymarket, we stepped back into the From Nebraska gift shop and were greeted by a wall of wine bottles. As the store purports to carry only items made in Nebraska, I was astonished to find so many different brands and types of wine available from around the state!

We noticed Plum and Rhubarb wine as well as the usual reds and whites, though the varieties were a bit foreign. The store appears to offer tastings and there were signs posted of various festivals in the area (one that morning, in fact, though it was a bit of drive to get to and too late in the day to start). There was also a map of the state that showed over 20 wineries sprinkled around the state (many accessible off of I-80) and half a dozen tasting rooms besides.

Our next trip up there will have to include at least a few of them!

A Trio of Local Favorites

With only 2 days in town we had a lot of nostalgia for Todd to catch up on. First was a Runza–a “loose meat and cabbage sandwich”–sold by a regional chain by the same name. Now, “loose meat” does not a appetizing thought create, yet that’s how I heard it described several times over the weekend. While it’s not incorrect, I prefer to call it a ground-beef and cabbage hand-held pie. Either way, it turned out to be yummy when we did get one after a trip to the Children’s Zoo.

Monkey & a Runza

Monkey & a Runza

Todd still maintains the bierocks I made for New Year’s Day were better but, frankly, I think it comes down to the seasoning. Runza seems to concentrate on pepper alone whereas we added ginger, paprika, nutmeg and caraway seeds along with cooking the cabbage in beer. We also didn’t cook the mixture until it was mush and sort of a grey color all the way around. There’s some benefit to homemade over mass production.

Another well-remembered spot was Vanetino’s. Known from their excellent pizza and rich tomato sauces, it wasn’t exactly as he remembered. The location we went to featured an extensive buffet that included barbecue, Asian and Mexican options in addition to pizza, pasta and salads. Something definitely gets lost with all that “variety” but we hear good things about the smaller locations and the pizza delivery.

Finally, a trip to the grocery store yeilded a salad dressing infamous with the locals: Dorothy Lynch. Diluted tomato soup is the primary ingredient in the sweet and spicy French-style dressing. This got packed in our checked back with the other over-3-ounce contraband and made it safely home. I think Todd is looking forward to salads this summer!