50 Shots of America–Arizona


Copper TopAs with much of the southwest, what is now known as Arizona was first claimed by Spain, and then Mexico, before becoming known as Alta California. After that it was all kinds of shuffling as the CSA and USA differed on what to call it and where it’s boundaries really were, ending once and for all when it became the 48th state on February 14, 1912–do you think Oregon was jealous?

The Grand Canyon State wasn’t a popular place to live (unless you were in copper mining or cotton) until after World War II. What made the difference? Air conditioning. Suddenly that “dry heat” was much more bearable and became quite the place, mid-century, to retire to and escape those harsh winters of the Northeast and upper Midwest. Though now the state’s popularity is putting a strain on the water reserves–guess the monsoons of the winter and summer just aren’t enough to keep the water table up!

Another thing Arizona has in common with Florida (the first being a major retiree population)? It’s the home of the Cactus League, hosting more than a dozen MLB teams for spring training every year (in Florida it’s the Grapefruit League).

Copper Top

3/4 oz Gold Tequila
3/4 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur

Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and shake like your serving drinks after dark in the darkest saloon in Tombstone. Strain into a chilled cordial glass–it’s hot out there!–and sip away your fears.

It makes sense that The Copper State has it in abundance–even the state Capitol building has a dome on it made with enough copper to make almost 5 million pennies! And I’m not sure if the state still produces citrus like they used to, but past is present when it comes to cocktails. I’d suggest using a Cointreau or Grand Marnier in this recipe–you want the smoothness that regular Triple Sec is not exactly known for, especially in such a small drink.

Early in its history, Arizona’s economy relied on the “five C’s”: copper (see Copper mining in Arizona), cotton, cattle, citrus, and climate (tourism).

50 Shots of America–Alabama

Alabama cocktail

East Avenue South--the background photo is from my trip to Birmingham, its the lane leading down to an amazing restaurant, Cobb Lane

Passing through French, British & Spanish hands, the town of Mobile, Alabama was finally captured by Andrew Jackson and claimed for the US free and clear. Now that it had some beach-front property, statehood proceedings were completed and it became the 22nd state of the Union on December 14, 1819.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had quite a few memories of the Heart of Dixie: touring the USS Alabama as a sullen teen, making my Mom nearly fall off the ladder from laughing at me after I ran my head into an opening I failed to duck for; the honeymoon trip to visit my second husband’s father in Pell City and waking up to hear some deadly storms has ripped through Dixie Alley during it’s secondary tornado season while we slept; scrapbooking and comics conventions in Mobile; the summer trip spent at Auburn University during high school and… oh, yes.

Birmingham is known as the Magic City–it was the one city to boom during the Great Migration of the early 20th century when so much of the population left for opportunities far to the north. It’s railroads, mining and related refining industries created opportunities not readily available in the state. Most mining has ceased (except for coal) but Birmingham continues to be a hub for manufacturing as well as southeastern headquarters for multitudes of national corporations. It also boasts a significant food culture.

Finishing my Culinary degree required a semester’s internship and I’d been able to garner an interview with the head of the chef’s association there. It was my first weekend trip entirely on my own–both a lonely and exciting opportunity! I visited restaurants my boss had recommended (having lived and worked in the area for 1o years), wandered (and got followed through) the beautiful Linn park and the nearby museums, and hung out in Five Points South.

I also got lost.

This is less than news as I have no natural-born sense of direction but the circumstances were interesting and worth sharing. Downtown Birmingham (where 90% of my activity was focused) is laid out in a grid–couldn’t be simpler, right? Everything is marked North and South with Avenues running one way and Streets and Alleys crossing them. My hotel was on 3rd Avenue South (or something like that) and I was coming home from Five Points and got turned around. I found 3rd Avenue North and just figured I’d take it south a ways and I’d get where I wanted to go.

I found myself in a train yard something, turned around and found myself almost on UAB campus and _finally_ retraced my steps and got back to my hotel. On Sunday, as I was leaving and looked at that same gridded map for the umpteenth time it finally hit me:

The Avenues of Birmingham run East-ish/West-ish, they’re named North and South in relation to where they are above or below the railroad tracks!

No wonder I didn’t find my hotel on the first try, that night!

And now we drink!

East Avenue South

3/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/4 oz Amaretto
1 oz Orange Juice

Combine over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cordial glass.

Obviously this is a nod to the Alabama Slammer cocktail but we’ve amped up the orange juice and ditched the sour mix and sloe gin/vodka/southern comfort whatever else folks opt to put in there. It’s sweet–almost unctuous –and tastes similar to a fuzzy navel but retains that hint of almond in the background.

And, absolutely, make 2 and share 🙂

Harvey & Hillary


Have you ever picked up a bit of seemingly useless trivia and wondered when it was ever going to be useful? Believe it or not, sometimes it actually does.

Case in point: many, many years ago (could be a decade or more) I vaguely remember someone telling me that when a cocktail has the word “wall” in it–like the Harvey Wallbanger, our topic for today–it contains a specific ingredient. Granted, I misremembered one little detail thinking that the ingredient in question was grenadine when it’s actually Galliano.

CHF Harvey Wallbanger

2 oz Vanilla Vodka
4-6 oz Orange Juice
.5 oz Galliano

Fill a Collins (tall) glass with ice. Pour the vodka over the ice, then the orange juice until almost full. Stir with a bar spoon (or iced tea spoon if it’s handier) and then top with the Galliano. Sip slowly, letting the Galliano mix in a bit with each movement of the glass.

It turns out I was out of plain vodka (oops!) but I had plenty of the vanilla variety. Since the Galliano is described as being a anise-flavored herbal liqueur with vanilla notes I figured it would mix well and, oh, it did.

If a Harvey Wallbanger is a Screwdriver with a little something extra, the Hillary Wallbanger is the Mimosa with a kick. She doesn’t get Champagne, instead you use white wine in place of the vodka but all else is equal. Most of the recipes I found for Hillary used a reverse ratio for wine to juice and also called for a dry white, like a Chardonnay. I happen not to like dry whites and, as always, prefer more mix to hooch, so kept the Harvey proportions and used a sweeter white.

Todd’s vote went squarely to the Harvey though I think if I’d used a Pinot Grigio instead of the Sugar Sands (a muscadine-based sweet white that I already had open) the Hillary may have been more to his liking. I thought Hillary was a nice, sweet mix but could have sipped either one with no quibbles. We both agree that the vanilla vodka enhances the Galliano (whose smell makes me think of root beer) so it will be how we make it from here on out.

Safe Sipping!